Job Fairs and Whacky Candidate Experiences

California State University – Long Beach (CSULB) is one of the largest Universities in the California State University system. The campus has a wide range of majors, programs, and career opportunities to help students plan their future. One event that the campus hosts is the CSULB job fair held every semester. At the job fair, many corporate recruiters represent an array of companies and organizations in search of the most qualified university candidates to fill their positions. With nervous students hunting for job opportunities who may have little to no experience, it is quite common for campus recruiters to undergo rather bizarre candidate interview experiences.

As part of Riviera Advisors’ regular and ongoing “Weird Interviewing Experiences” series, I was able to discuss weird interview experiences with many recruiters including, Bert Stewart from Ross Stores, Sarah Chun-Hoon from Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Kathy Ranek from Business Talent Group, Paola De La Cruz from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Gina Kiestler from Farmers Insurance, and Nancy Tawadros from Exed. I also spoke with the Human Resources teams from Geico, Wedbush securities, Bridgestone and Airgas (just to name a few).

A few bizarre interviews stood out to me. One Corporate Recruiter mentioned that she had scheduled an interview with a candidate who gave her an unexpected curveball. As the applicant arrived to the site, he brought his spouse and several children with him. The applicant requested to have his entire immediate family join in on the interview process because they were family-oriented. Despite his request, the candidate was kindly informed by the recruiter that it would be ideal to interview with him alone.

Another recruiter that I spoke with recalled a terrible interview where the candidate came in with a bad attitude. Immediately upon arrival the candidate gave her the ultimatum to give him a reason why he should choose the position. He rudely stated that if her answer to his questions were not satisfying then he would be happy to leave! Not surprisingly, he was not a good fit for the position and was kindly dismissed from the interview.

I also spoke with a recruiter who mentioned a story of a qualified candidate who failed towards the end of the interview. The candidate was a star candidate and had proven to be a qualified, top-notch individual… however he had one major concern on his mind. At the end of the interview when the candidate was asked if he had any questions, he proceeded to ask if the company performed drug tests. The recruiter told him that a drug test would be performed the same week as the interview. From then on out, the candidate showed physical signs of nervousness during the interview. He was profusely sweating, shaking and showed many signs of discomfort! Needless to say, he opted out of the drug test and mysteriously vanished.

One common theme that was present amongst these recruiters was a recurrence of candidates coming in with inappropriate interview attire. I often heard recruiters discuss stories about how candidates would come into the interview dressed in flip-flops, t-shirts, fashion suits and tuxedos. Every single time, the candidate was completely unaware of their clothing mistakes! Other awkward themes included candidates who would text, answer phones, and even eat pizza during the interview! It was also not uncommon for me to hear stories regarding candidates who showed up significantly late for interviews without warnings or apologies. Recruiters also discussed interview situations where candidates were rude and felt entitled to the position they were applying for. Often they would feel that they were overqualified for a position even though their qualifications showed otherwise.

I myself have had awkward interviews from previous internships. I once interviewed a candidate who was very rude and demanding on the phone. Immediately after the interview he demanded to know when he would start the position. He also made it clear that if I did not let him know immediately, that he would find somewhere better to apply. Despite the lack of respect, it was important for me to remain informative and respectful to the candidate’s concerns. If you are a recruiter, then it is safe to say that you have experienced a whacky interview at one point or another. They are inevitable and are essentially part of the job. A key strength that recruiters must establish during an interview is to learn to either redirect or adapt to an awkward situation. It is also important for recruiters to share their awkward interview experiences with their peers and even college students to paint an idea of what not to expect.

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