Survey Results: In the quest for talents. Interviewers share bizarre interview encounters and common interview blunders, finds JobsCentral’s survey

By Jonathan Tay

From dealing with a crying interviewee to encountering a stalker, interviewers reveal some of the strangest job candidates they have come across in JobsCentral’s latest online study. The study, which was conducted from August to September 2012, included the responses of over 390 hiring managers and HR personnel.

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Recounting the strangest candidate behaviours witnessed in an interview, interviewers provided the following real-life examples:
• Candidate exhibited trophies which he has won from during his days in school and at previous companies
• Candidate laid out all her stationeries on the table during the interview
• Candidate brought along her 7-year old brother for the interview and said that she was babysitting him
• Candidate answered her phone in the midst of interview and conversed with her mother on how to cook a dish
• Candidate stalked a female interviewer at the staff entrance
• Candidate started crying in the interview as she shared her family problems
• Candidate showed up for the interview in a hat and Hawaiian shirt
• Candidate insisted to only speak with the CEO
• Candidate doodles on his resume while talking
• Candidate was dressed as a woman and tried to behave like one
• Candidate started singing the national anthem and refused to stop
• Candidate asked interviewer out for a date
• Candidate brought her mother to sit in for interview
• Candidate does not want to talk about past achievements
• Candidate whispered to himself when answering questions
• Candidate’s eyes rolled inwards when talking
• Candidate constantly played with 3cm long nail on last finger
• Candidate laughed at every single sentence interviewer said
• Candidate refused to shake hands
• Candidate was at reception and yet called to say she was ill
• Candidate requested for a hug
• Candidate arrived and left after using the toilet
• Candidate kept looking around the room like he was searching for someone
• Candidate cried, laughed and cursed when describing prior job experiences
• Candidate sat very still during interview with only eyeball movements
• Candidate combed her hair repeatedly during the interview
• Candidate was excited over everything interviewer said
• Candidate refused to talk throughout interview and would only make head movements

Common interview blunders to avoid

While eccentric behaviors in an interview would mostly cost you a hiring opportunity, interviewers advised job candidates to avoid other more common blunders during interviews:
• Not making eye contact – 76.5 per cent
• Bad posture – 58.3 per cent
• Playing with something on the table – 46.7 per cent
• Crossing their arms over their chest – 46.2 per cent
• Failure to smile – 44.7 per cent
• Fidgeting too much in their seat – 42.7 per cent
• Playing with hair or touching one's face – 40.4 per cent
• Handshake that is too weak – 28.3 per cent
• Using too many hand gestures – 24.2 per cent

Strong handshakes less offensive than weak handshakes

A weak handshake is perceived more negatively by employers than an overly-hard handshake. 28.3 per cent of employers consider weak handshakes a blunder, as compared to 7.8% who disliked handshakes that were too strong.

Quirky questions by interviewers

Many companies throw quirky questions at interviewees to gauge their ability to think on their feet. Below are some of the challenging ones that Singapore employers use.
• If you were a superhero, which would you be and why?
• You have 15 minutes to tell us everything a brick can be used for.
• Give me 3 positive character traits you DON'T have.
• If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?
• How would you run the company if you are now the boss?
• If you could trade yourself with somebody, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be?
• If you could choose any position in this company, what position would that be and why?
• If you were asked to design a mascot for the company, how would it look like?
• Name 5 adjectives to describe yourself and explain your choices.
• What brand would you like to be and why?

Survey Methodology

The online study was conducted among 396 hiring managers and HR personnels between 13 August and 14 September 2012. Using a confidence level of 95% and sample size of 396 the results of this survey have a sampling error of +/- 4.92 per cent. This means that for every 100 times the exact survey is conducted, the results obtained are conformable to a margin of error of +/- 4.92 per cent, 95% of the time.

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