Friday Funny: The Most Unusual Interview Mishaps And Biggest Body Language Mistakes

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

Much like a highly anticipated first date, a job interview can go from pure potential to pure disaster in mere minutes. In a new survey from CareerBuilder, employers shared the most memorable job interview mistakes candidates have made and how body language can hinder their chances of moving forward in the interview process.

According to the nationwide survey, conducted online in November to December 2014 by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among more than 2,100 hiring and human resource managers, 49% of employers know within the first five minutes of an interview if a candidate is a good fit for a position. By minute 15, that number reaches 90%.

Top 10 Body Language Mistakes

Facial expressions, posture, and other physical behaviors can reveal more about job seekers than the words they use. When asked to identify the biggest body language mistakes job seekers make, hiring managers named the following:

  1. Failing to make eye contact: 65%
  2. Failing to smile: 36%
  3. Playing with something on the table: 33%
  4. Having bad posture: 30%
  5. Fidgeting too much in their seat: 29%
  6. Crossing their arms over their chest: 26%
  7. Playing with their hair or touching their face: 25%
  8. Having a weak handshake: 22%
  9. Using too many hand gestures: 11%
  10. Having a handshake that is too strong: 7%
Too many pens.
Photo: Heidi Schwartz

Most Unusual Interview Behaviors

When asked to share the biggest mistakes or most unusual things job candidates have made during the interview process, employers and hiring managers recalled the following true life tales:

  • The candidate brought about 50 ink pens to the interview and proceeded to spread them out on the table.
  • The candidate kept fidgeting and repositioning his duffel bag, which turned out to have a dog inside.
  • After introducing himself by name, the candidate said, “But you can call me Tigger! That is the nickname I gave myself.”
  • In answer to a question about diversity, the candidate used the term “off the boat.”
  • The candidate asked if he could offer religious advice to the employees.
  • The candidate asked if his wife, who worked at the company for which he was interviewing, was cheating on him.
  • The candidate asked how much money everyone else makes.
  • The candidate gave the reason for leaving the previous position as “kicking someone’s butt that really needed it.”
  • The candidate sat in a yoga pose during the interview.
  • The candidate tried to Google the answer to a question.

“Acing the job interview isn’t just about what you say in response to the interviewer’s questions,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. “It’s also about what your body language says about you. Employers are looking for those non-verbal cues to indicate a candidate’s level of professionalism and if they will be the right fit for the position.”


  1. If we are talking about how people prepared or did not prepare for interviews, here are a few of the most outstanding ones.
    1. took a cigarette out as I was asking a question and lit it. I ended the interview immediately.
    2.handed me a resume that was creased and soiled
    3.did not look at our website before interview. When I get this answer I usually end the interview since it appears that the person did not take the time to learn about our firm.
    4. came in improperly dress in a “T” shirt and jeans
    5. asked about benefits and holidays when he arrived.
    I could go on and on, but we all know that the process of interviewing requires skill and at least a little bit of things called manners.

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