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13 Outlandish Interview Tactics You Shouldn't Try

job interview Credit: Interview Panel image via Shutterstock

Despite what some job candidates apparently think, saying or doing anything and everything that comes to the top of their mind during an interview isn't the best way to land a job, new research shows.

With one in four workers planning to change jobs in the next two years, CareerBuilder has released its annual study on some of the most outlandish job interview mistakes to avoid, which include flirting with the hiring manager and stealing candy during the interview.

Some of the other more peculiar behaviors hiring managers have witnessed during job interviews include:

  • Candidate said he had to quit a banking position because he was always tempted to steal.
  • Candidate denied that he had a cellphone with him even though it could be heard ringing in his briefcase.
  • Candidate emptied the employer's candy dish into her pocket.
  • Candidate said he didn't like getting up early and didn't like to read.
  • Candidate asked to be paid "under the table."
  • Candidate reached over and placed a hand on the interviewer's knee.
  • Candidate commented that he would do whatever it takes to get the job done, legal or not.
  • Candidate hugged the president of the company.
  • Candidate called his wife to see what they were having for dinner.
  • Candidate asked to postpone the start date so she could still get holiday gifts from vendors at her current job.
  • Candidate called in sick to her current employer during the interview, faking an illness.
  • Candidate said he didn't want the job if he had to work a lot.
  • Candidate wouldn't answer a question because he thought they would steal his idea and not hire him.

[Weird Job Interview Questions That May Not Be Legal]

While outrageous tactics are surefire ways to lose out on a job opportunity, candidates lose out by making more common blunders as well. As part of the research, CareerBuilder identified the top detrimental mistakes made during job interviews and how to correct them, including:

  • Appearing disinterested: A lack of enthusiasm can leave the employer feeling less than enthusiastic about you as a candidate.  Maintain good energy throughout the interview.  Make sure to ask thoughtful questions about the company's competitive positioning and growth prospects, and come in with ideas.
  • Using a cellphone: Make sure to turn any phones or tablets off, or better yet, leave them at home. This is a major pet peeve for employers and can often be a deal breaker.
  • Dressing inappropriately: It's better to err on the conservative.  Wear a business suit or dress business casual, such as a nice pair of slacks/skirt and button-down shirt. 
  • Bashing past employers: Even if the candidate is completely justified in their assessment of a past employer, they should never badmouth them. Focus on what was learned from that company and how it's relevant to the job at hand.
  • No eye contact: Body language speaks volumes.  Chin up, back straight, big smile, firm but not too firm handshake and look straight at the interviewer.
  • No specifics: Vague responses can sometimes imply a lack of knowledge or experience.  Candidates should come equipped with specific examples of how they contributed to the success of other organizations, quantifying results whenever possible.  

Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, said job interviews can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences, so it's important to plan and practice. 

"Have a friend run through a mock interview with you, asking questions you think will come up and some curveballs you're not expecting," Haefner said. "Thoroughly research the company ahead of time and draft responses that incorporate your accomplishments.  The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to run into mishaps."

The study was based on surveys of more than 2,600 hiring managers and 3,900 workers nationwide.

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.