Candidates from hell


Everyone is familiar with the terror of the job interview. It doesn’t matter which side of the table you’re on, it can be stressful and nerve-wracking. Sometimes people’s reaction to that stress is just mind-boggling.

Take the candidate from Sacramento who, in 2012, gave new meaning to the concept of a bad interview by turning up naked and high on methamphetamine. Memorable, but not the kind of impression you want to make! Here are three more examples of candidates from hell that will have you cringing behind your notepad.


The Know-it-all

You know this candidate, the one who loves interrupting and always has an amendment to every remark.  During a group interview, a candidate once interrupted every other person present to add their two cents. Not content with belittling other candidates at every turn, they soon turned his scorn on the interviewer and when asked if they were familiar with the ticketing company’s booking system simply replied, “You’re not still using that system, are you?” A little confidence can be a big plus in potential employees, but it’s a fine line to tread between appearing capable and self-assured, and arrogant to the point of being impossible to work with.

Another recruiter spoke of a candidate who, upon being shown the company’s flagship campaign that had been in development for months, made a face and said that they could do better with Photoshop in a day. Constructive criticism is never a bad thing and employers should certainly value candidates who show initiative and bring new ideas to the table, but a certain level of tact would not go amiss.

The bad impression

When it comes to interviews, first impressions really are everything so is it that much to ask for a little decorum? A manager at a leading publishing house shared a story of interviewing a candidate who, while thinking about an answer, attempted to pop their gum and instead sent it flying across the desk – a mortifying situation for everyone.

There are so many horror stories of people making zero effort with their appearance, turning up in everything from flip flops to pyjama bottoms. Keeping with the theme of sleepwear, one interviewer reported finding a candidate asleep in reception when they went out to collect them. On another occasion, a candidate had simply slumped over mid-interview to rest their head on the desk.  It’s important to stay calm during interviews but there is such a thing as being too relaxed!


The passive one

Recruiting is not just about finding someone competent enough to do the job, but also hiring someone who will fit with the culture of the team. A little personality can go a long way to setting someone apart. It’s quite challenging then to be confronted with an interviewee who favours monosyllabic answers. One recruiter spoke about a candidate who had to constantly be coaxed into providing anything more than “I don’t know.”

Another interview asked an applicant how they handled stressful situations only to be met with a shrug, “I think about puppies.” No elaboration. Even if you give a candidate the benefit of the doubt, it might never improve.

An IT manager recalls hiring a passive candidate only to never get an answer from them. “There was no communication with the rest of the team. We never knew what stage the projects were at, or what needed to be done,” she says.

Really, when it comes to interviews, courtesy and common sense is key. And if you happen to have a bad experience, just pick yourself up and remember these tales. It could always be worse!

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