Last year, I attended the Fall 2014 job fair at California State University – Long Beach (CSULB) to seek out awkward, strange and uncomfortable job interview experiences. This year I went again in search for some more!
As part 2 of Riviera Advisors’ “Job Fairs and Whacky Candidate Experience” series, I was able to discuss the most strangest interview experiences with many corporate recruiters including, Heather Boon from R+L Truckload Services, Fernando Cetina and Kathy McDonald from Burlington coat factory, Isabel Juarez from Cintas, Shalah Smith from AAA, and Alix Williams from Sunrun Inc. (just to name a few).
Several stories stood out to me and caught my attention even more than my last visit to the job fair! Throughout this experience I was able to meet more recruiters who had plenty of bizarre stories to tell.
One recruiter told me about an instance in which a candidate came into an interview, walked in with a bowl of candy and started eating while responding to questions! Nonetheless, the recruiter proceeded with a candidate awkwardly licking his fingers during the interview.
I also spoke to another person who told me about a similar experience of a candidate being distracted by a beverage. In this case, the candidate came to the interview with a huge slurpee! After each question, the candidate would take sips of her icy beverage and would plop it on top of the interviewer’s desk. Despite the watery condensation being left on the interviewers desk, she still continued to leave it there after she slurped her slurpee!
Another recruiter told me about a “daydreaming candidate”. This candidate walked into the interview without any eye-contact and chose to gaze outside of the window during the whole process. Again, this recruiter proceeded to interview this candidate despite her awkward behavior! When answering all of the questions, the entire time, the candidate was STILL staring outside of the window. When the interview concluded, the candidate got up from her chair, dramatically hyperventilated, and ran out of the room!
One common theme that I always find with awkward interview situations is inappropriate dress attire. Often, they tell me about candidates who do not understand the concept of interview-appropriate attire. One recruiter in particular talked about a candidate who came into the interview with flannel pants and a loosely buttoned, summer shirt! This same recruiter also mentioned that another one of his candidates took out their phone and started ordering a deli sandwich right in the middle of the interview.
Incorrect attire is always awkward, but nothing is more gut-wrenching than a candidate who is brutally honest about themselves… One recruiter experienced both at the same time! One candidate walked in with a HUGE skull on her blouse and sat down for the interview. When asked why the candidate left her last position, she responded with, “People just don’t like me”… It is safe to say that this individual did not get a call back.
A bad mouth seemed to be another trending theme. A recruiter mentioned that they have had candidates who would bad-mouth previous employers, co-workers, and company’s right in front of them.
It is quite common to hear from the recruiters that nervousness, lack of preparation, and lack of professionalism is prevalent among many awkward interviews. Despite these obstacles, it is important for all recruiters to remain in a professional manner and handle the awkward interview accordingly. The next time you are interviewing a candidate, it is safe to say that if they are not hyperventilating, devouring food, or badmouthing their previous employer, then you are probably having a “normal” interview.