A candidate was being interviewed for a job in a bank and believed the recruitment process was “going perfectly despite how nervous I was.” That was up until the final question. “The panel asked me ‘why should we hire you?’ and I word-vomit replied: ‘Because I probably won't steal your money!’” Needless to say, the job candidate was not hired.
The account was just one of many humorous anecdotes on Reddit, under the discussion thread ‘What's the biggest mistake you made on your first job interview?’
Other accounts included one unfortunate individual who turned up in person to a phone interview, a candidate who finished each sentence with “etcetera,” another who replied "beer appreciation" when asked about his hobbies, and a teacher who answered ‘Defence Against Dark Arts’ when asked what position they wanted at a school.
Another poster, _freethinker_, said they answered a question too honestly. “[The] first time I was honest about why I was leaving my old job and the reason was negative,” _freethinker_ wrote. “Next time I had a story about how – while I loved my current job – the new job gave an additional positive push to my career path. You have to bend the truth for sure.”
A number of other commenters agreed with the advice, which had received more than 2,000 up-votes. Tahlyn wrote that you didn’t necessarily have to bend the truth, but articulate answers in a more positive way.
“There's nothing wrong with saying ‘I am unhappy at my current position.’ Most employers know that you wouldn't be out looking for another job if you didn't think there was some irreconcilable difference in what your employer provided versus what you wanted for yourself that led to discord,” Tahlyn wrote. “The difference comes in how you present it. ‘I hate that my boss is a jerk’ is different from ‘My boss has expectations on life-work-balance that greatly differ from my own. I am looking for a change in environment that better fits my own personal work-life goals.’"
Bobdelany, who identified himself as a hiring manager, said that, “If you told me ‘my boss has expectations on life-work-balance that greatly differ from my own’ I would read that as, ‘I'm not ambitious’ and my mind is made up.”
“…I'm driven,” Bobdelany continued. “I'm looking at my next step up. So, in each interview I'm listening for who can fill the vacuum I leave. We're all selfish. If you can't help me, I've no interest in you.”
Another Redditor said they were interviewing a job candidate who was unable to answer one of the questions, lay her head down on the table and announced ‘I’m failing!’ The poster said they thanked her for taking the time to come in for the interview.
The inevitable discussion about standard questions such as ‘What is your biggest weakness?’ also followed. “My biggest weakness is my inability to choose between my many weaknesses,” joked Hellendrung, while another poster had more practical advice to share.
“Actually it might be anything from your past, given that you found a way to overcome it,” Krukson said. “For example, you might say you were struggling with time management, but you started planning things better, and used reminders, and now it's not a problem anymore. Don't go with cliché [rubbish] like ‘I'm a bit of perfectionist’ etc. Interviewers are triggered by this.”
Faking it to you make it, was also discussed. “It was at a popular craft store,” wrote Cakeisgrape. “They asked what crafts I like to do and I have zero craft talent. I lied and said I liked making jewellery because I did so in school once. They hired me and whenever a customer had a jewellery question they always asked me. I eventually learned the ropes though.”
This approach of pretending to have a good knowledge of a subject or task is often fraught with danger, however. “I'm a crafter but may have exaggerated my knitting abilities in an interview … (I know how to knit, but barely),” wrote CharlotteBCavatica. “Towards the end of my time the interviewer handed me a knitting pattern and I asked what it was.”
MelGibsonIsKingAlpha said the situation involving the inability to identify the knitting pattern could have been salvaged. “You should have said a weird-sounding word, then explained how you learned knitting from your now long-dead Norwegian grandmother who taught you all the patterns in her native tongue,” the Redditor wrote. “Out of respect for her, you have never learned them in English. It's a two pointer: she knows you can knit, and you are a loving granddaughter.”
Another poster recounted a story about how a dry cleaners lost his suit. “With the interview only about twenty minutes away the owner gave me his suit to borrow,” he wrote. “It was a tan suit, way too big, had a striped pattern, and reeked of mustard and sweat. Safe to say I did not make a good first impression at that interview.” A fellow Redditor chipped in, saying that: “If you were interviewing for a hot dog job that might have been a plus.”
Cornjuliox said he realised after a couple of job interviews that it was “a bad idea to NOT ask questions when prompted to at the end of the interview.” “It shows that you aren't interested in their company, and implies that you're just in this for the pay check. I find that a lot of companies these days care just as much about your interest in them as they do your skills and background.”
A number of Redditors agreed, with Baconraygun saying that asking questions “shows that you care, and of course you want them to sell you the position.” “A lot of places forget that you're interviewing THEM too.”
Tahlyn, in a second post with more than 1,000 up-votes, said she once had typo in her CV. “I had a typo in my resume that my B.S. was a B.A. The interviewer pointed it out after I said I was detail oriented. I had interviewed three other people in that company who all loved me up until then and the job was going to be a shoo-in because I knew someone who worked there who really wanted me on his team. I did not get hired because of that typo.”
And sometimes a number of factors collide in a perfect storm of ineptitude. Fatloserbutimnotfat said he recently went to an assessment centre for a large IT/business company. He listed what happened next. “I told the interviewer 'I'm nervous' when I walked through the door. I said ‘no’ when asked ‘do you have any further questions?’ I was very bossy and uncooperative in the group activity task. I applied for a job that was unrelated to my degree. I suggested cheating when doing a group activity task which resulted in the assessors sighing loudly (usually they don’t interact with the candidates at all). And to top it off I lost my train tickets so I couldn’t get reimbursed for the £100 journey fees.”
Jrhoffa, in a good-natured response, said the poster was a complete “mess,” while Thext disagreed, labelling him “management material.”
Monroe Consulting Group’s advice to job candidates undertaking their first or any interviews is to prepare for it. “This may sound obvious, but it's not,” the executive recruitment company says on its Website. “Too many applicants walk into an interview without knowing as much as they should about the industry, the company and its problems. Remember: You are there to solve a problem. Otherwise, the company wouldn't be hiring.”
Monroe, which operates in emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region, has a range of resources available for job candidates, including how to nail a job interview and how to write a winning CV.
The full discussion on Reddit can be read here