Applicants Behaving Badly - How Not to Behave at a Job Interview


Sometimes applicants do the darnest things during an interview

Finding the right person for the right job is quite difficult. Obviously no one is perfect. But surely employers want the closest match. The search for the best candidate can be a daunting task especially if you get “low quality” applicants. OK, that sounds a bit rude but hey, there are applicants who just don’t cut it. In fact, I have endured sitting across really pathetic applicants and it’s no pretty sight. In many instances, headaches follow an interview. in some rare cases, I had to take a quick break before i can continue. Suffice to say, it's not a pretty experience.

In the spirit of sharing (even the dismal experiences) I have compiled some appalling moments with applicants. You'll never want to face an applicant behaving badly.

Late and mad

Being late for an interview is an automatic red flag. But there was one applicant who barged in 20 minutes late for her appointment into an ongoing interview. She detested the fact that the company did not wait for her to show up. Moreover, she blamed many things for being late. Her list included bad weather, neighbors fighting and the inability to locate the office building – which was actually located along a major thoroughfare with a huge signage.

Interview reminder:

  • Please be early for your interview. Some companies may need you to fill up forms prior to your actual interview so be early. Some even have a set of tests that you have to take.
  • Ask for directions. It’s not a good excuse that you do not know where the building is located. Surely, not everything is on Google Map so ask the best and fastest way to get to the office.
  • Consider severity of traffic. Job interviews are usually done during office hours. So expect traffic especially during rush hour. Take alternate routes or modes of transportation just to get to our job interview on time.


Improperly dressed is an understatement

Putting your best foot forward during a job interview is something we expect applicants to do. More than just exaggerating on accomplishments and skills, even how one presents himself gets points. So it was a huge surprise when one applicant went to an interview wearing beach shorts and a t-shirt. He smugly said that the interview was just formalities and that he had to catch a plane for a weekend getaway with buddies. Suffice to say after his weekend escapade he was still unemployed.

Interview reminders;

  • Dress properly. Interviews are supposed to reflect one’s professionalism. So take the time to dress properly. Business attire is often a good choice.
  • Clean is next to getting hired. Allow me to expand this further: clean and fresh smelling is ideal. It’s one thing to wear business attire but it’s another to present yourself without the stench of the commute. So if you can go to the building earlier and freshen up do so. You can brush your teeth before the interview or simply pop in a mint or two.

Incomplete requirements

Applying for a job usually entails submitting personal records, credentials and other security documents. Although some companies allow you to complete the requirement once hired, it is prudent to complete them right away. In many selection processes, receiving applicant requirements is a common procedure. This is why it was a real shock when an applicant went in for an interview without anything on her not even her resume. The applicant even asked the receptionist to log on her online account and print a copy of her resume and other documents. What’s even irritating is that the applicant had to sift through many versions of her resume. Suffice to say her online storage system just did not work for her.

Interview reminders:

  • Be prepared with your documents. If you are job hunting make sure you print out resumes and other pertinent documents. It’s logical the companies will ask for them.
  • Label your documents properly. This is for everyone’s benefit. The faster you retrieve information the better. But of course, don’t rely on the company to print everything for you. It’s just not right.


Important note

If some of the stories resemble a job interview you once had, It's not my intension to make you feel bad. Likewise, these are some of the experiences I find dismal. It may be different from your point of view.

Poor communication skills

Depending on the job you re applying, the level of communication skills also varies. But in any company, being able to express yourself properly is a basic skill needed. Surely you don’t need to enroll in a prestigious school to acquire eloquence but at least you should be able to communicate. One turn off in job interviews is applicants who fail to complete a coherent sentence. There was one applicant you who would pale in comparison to a 6 year old pre-school student. Here’s the interview as I recall it:

Interviewer: Good morning Mr. XXXX, How are you doing?

Applicant: Shrugs and nods head.

Interviewer: Can you tell me your qualifications for this job?

Applicant: I know it.

Interviewer: Can you give me some examples of your past experiences related to the work?

Applicant: Yes I can.

An eerily long silence

Interviewer: What are your work experiences similar to this position?

Applicant: There are some….Yes, yes, there are some

Interviewer: Can you enumerate them for me?

Applicant: Sure, but there are a few I can share.

Another eerily long silence – but shorter than before

Interviewer: Is there anything you would like to share about your previous work experience?

Applicant: Uhmm, I guess none.

Interviewer: Thank you for coming in today sir.

Applicant: So, when do I start?

The guy was applying for a customer service position!

Interview reminders:

  • Please practice and plan your answers. If you’ve been in many interviews, you’ll notice that many questions get repeated. Some are rehashed but still have the same idea. Practice what you’ll say.
  • Give details that will help you land the job. Let’s face it, resumes can only do so much when it comes to getting information about you. The way you sell yourself will definitely make a bigger impact.
  • Show enthusiasm. Show that you are interested. Moreover, show that you have an open mind regarding the work.


Disparages previous employers

It’s never a good idea to trash talk your previous employer. When asked why she left her previous company she started getting furious and agitated. Worse, it became more of a rant than a straightforward answer. Of course we don’t want to lie about our experiences and our reasons for leaving. But this does not mean we have to disparage people or company. This will reflect our own attitude and professionalism.

Interview reminders:

  • Choose your words properly. Even if you want to cuss and curse, choose not to. How you compose yourself during an interview is very important. This will reflect your mental and emotional attitude.
  • They are not the complaint bureau. Give your interviewer a quick answer. They don’t need to learn every detail of what happened during that interview. If there is cause for additional inquiry they will do so at a different time. Bearing your soul at this time is not an ideal course of action.
  • Be honest. If you were let go, then say so. If you resigned, give them an idea why. Just remember that you should be consistent and honest with the information you give.

There are many other harrowing interview situations that I have witness. I’m pretty sure I can add to this list a few more in the future. One thing is common in all these scenarios. None of them made it to the shortlist of candidates. It simply underscores the importance of proper attitude and preparation for job interviews.

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Comments 28 comments

MargaritaEden profile image

MargaritaEden 4 years ago from Oregon

Some very useful and interesting information! Very true, it's important to be well prepared.

jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines Author

Hello MargaritaEden,

Preparing for an interview is basic. But many don't take the time to prepare. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

itakins profile image

itakins 4 years ago from Irl

Great advice here.....and yet there are always those who just don't get it.I still cringe (and smile) at the memory of a woman who produced a bundle of aged photos as evidence of her previous work experience...yes true!

BusinessTime profile image

BusinessTime 4 years ago from Twin Cities

I've seen my share of situations like you describe -- on gentleman I interviewed showed a lot of interest when I mention we work closely with one of our competitors on some projects, and he ended the interview by asking us if we could put in a good word for him with that company. Um...

Thanks for a good laugh (and a few good face-palms)!

jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines Author

Hi itakins,

That's really funny. You must give some points for the effort. :)

jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines Author

Hello BusinessTime,

Nice to see you again. That's really weird of that applicant. Well, we all have weird stories to share.

annerivendell profile image

annerivendell 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hehe! What a great Hub. The guy in the shorts and T-shirt made me laugh the most, and I've met some Customer Service people like your uncommunicative candidate! Voted Up, thank you.

jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines Author

Hello annerivendell,

He was really something. I hope he enjoyed his vacation though. :)

Thanks for dropping by and the vote up.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

Nice hub, jpcmc. I can sometimes sympathize with people who don't answer interview questions too well. Maybe they're just extremely nervous or didn't have time to prepare. But I can never bring myself to understand applicants who are late and unapologetic, inappropriately dressed or too eager to badmouth their previous employers. These people just have no common sense whatsoever.

jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines Author

Hello Om Paramapoonya,

Preparing for an interview is very important. But some are really taken over by nervousness. It's true, unprofessional behavior will not get any applicant hired. Thanks for sharing your ideas on the topic.

H.Agosto 4 years ago

This is funny. I've interviewed quite a few with surprisingly weird personalities. But not as weird as the ones on this article. Very funny!

jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines Author

Hi H.Agosto,

I'm glad this made you smile. We do get some odd interviews.

unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

hahaha!! Can't help laughing at the interview scene, and he asked when do he start? If im the interviewer, i don't know if i will laugh or get furious because of the attitude.

And very good tips..been through interviews and being late as well as incomplete requirements and the not wearing proper attire is a big red flag.

I hope many people will read this and be aware of what to do when applying for a job.

jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines Author

Hi M,

These are the times when you just don't know how to react. You want to smile but deep down you want to cut off the person's blood circulation. Job interviews are is a chance to make good impression. If applicants make a fool of themselves, they can lose the opportunity for great work.

unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

I agree, with all the competitions around us, be sure to impress the interviewer.

"If you're late on this interview, how much more if we'll hire you?"

Applicants really need to get serious. I also have gone to the interview wherein the applicant wears slippers. Oh my..respect the interviewer, respect the company.. :)

healthylife2 profile image

healthylife2 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

I'm thinking of returning to the workforce so found this helpful. Voted up and shared!

petenali profile image

petenali 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Poor interviewee technique is only going to get worse, as this generation coming up attempts to hit the work force because they are totally losing their ability to converse face to face as a result of the Internet. I guess the flip side to that is that eventually the interviewers will be cut from the same cloth so maybe there won't be an issue. I can picture it now... interviews conducted over text messaging, or Facebook chat....

jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines Author

Hi petenali,

it already interviews. But I hope it does not come to this. It's always a good idea to look into the applicant's eyes and see for yourself.

jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines Author

Hello healthylife2,

I'm glad this hub is useful. Good luck with the job hunt.

jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines Author

Hi M,

Weird slippers! Was it a dress down day? Dressing properly is a way to highlight that you are serious about getting nhired. Appearing professional is a basic step in getting hired.

Mike 4 years ago

You make me laugh! But the truth is, I've seen my share of applicants behaving badly. It's one of the perks of interviewing people of all sorts.

jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines Author

Yes, interviews can be stressful, but it's these instances that make us laugh that's makes it more enjoyable. Thanks for sharing Mike.

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

Thank you for this excellent Hub. It is very funny, particularly the interview under "poor communication skills." Your advice is right on target. Well done!


jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines Author

Hi James,

Thanks for the kind words. I'm just annoyed at how many applicants behave. Their unprofessional demeanor is a huge turn off. Have you had horrid experiences with interviews?

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

Oh yes, I certainly have. Especially, I hate to say this, among "disadvantaged" groups who walk in and act like you owe them a job because of the victim group they are in. Whether they can do the work or not some of them act like you must put them on the payroll and they have very sorry attitudes.

jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines Author

I know what you mean James. Employers still have a certain skill set to fill up.

anusha15 profile image

anusha15 3 years ago from Delhi, India

Talk about Weird stories of applicants, my husband would have a lot to contribute. In the morning today, he told us about a young lady (unemployed at time) who couldn't remember the names of institutions where she worked as an intern, couldn't remember the names of companies where she applied and wanted one week of lead time before joining - when she was asked why - she said she needed it for shopping - for formals :D

So to add to your nice list of "What not to do..." - Even if you're too sure of yourself, don't share your formal shopping plans with the interviewer. :)

Great hub.

jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines Author

Hello anusha15 ,

That was a weird applicant. So what did her resume looked like - empty spaces for experiences? That's definitely a huge blunder.

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