We recently sent all of our customers the below email:
‘Based on the popularity of our last blog (The 3 best resignation videos ever!) we’ve decided to do another quirky blog post, but this time we need your help. The title of the blog post will be called ‘The 3 things to NEVER say in an interview’.
Where we need your help is please could you reply with the worst thing you heard an interviewee tell you. We will not publish your name or company name however, if it’s absolutely hilarious we will publish your response and send you over a bottle of fizz as a Thank You.
For those of you who wrote in, THANK YOU! We have featured the best of the best below. And as much as this type of blog is a far cry from our usual topics of confidential shredding, fraud, identity theft and data protection, the overwhelming number of email replies we’ve had, encouraged us to go for it. The hope was to have 3 things you shouldn’t say in an interview, but as you can see, given the responses below and how eye wateringly funny they are, we thought ‘what the heck’ and extended the list.
Enjoy, you’re literally going to laugh out loud!
1) Is a drugs test compulsory for all new staff?
We were looking for a new, young person to join our mail room. The job would be hard work, but nothing too complicated. This was to say the candidate didn’t need to have a degree in rocket science or anything, just be presentable, smart and organised. A time I can think of is when a candidate recently walked into our office and before the interview had even began asked ‘is a drugs test compulsory for all new staff?’. It goes without saying that that question told us everything we needed to know. Next please!
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: If you are intent on letting the interviewer know that you take drugs, you may be better off going to it wearing a T Shirt with a picture of Pablo Escobar with the words, Pablo was a good guy.
2) My last boss was an idiot
She just kept repeating it over and over again in the interview. And whilst she sat there moaning about her old boss, to someone who was potentially going to be her new boss, the thought of having someone out there constantly bad mouthing me just didn’t sit right with me. Ironically in this particular instance her ex boss just happened to be my brother. Whoops!
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: Talking about your last boss makes you seem petit and totally unprofessional. And the only thing left on the interviewer’s mind is ‘how quickly will this candidate slag us off after they leave’? Don’t do it. In sales they used to say, say good things about your competition but elegant things about yourself. Guess the same could be said of ex bosses.
3) Where do you see yourself in 10 years? – In Your Chair?!
So recently a family business compromised of a father and son decided to hire a Marketing Director. The son was doing all the interviewing and explained to each candidate how important family was to them. After all it was a 2rd generation business and they prided themselves on that.
The Son asks the candidate : ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years’.
Candidate: I’n your chair….’
Son: ‘I’m the VP of the company, in that scenario where would I go?’
Candidate: ‘You’d become president.’
Son: ‘What would happen to the current president, my dad?’
Candidate: He’d be dead….
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: Don’t try and be too cocky or insensitive in situations like these. It’s good to sound like you are keen for advancement, but having the founder of the company dead in an imaginary fantasy of a fast track is probably not a good idea. It will be no surprise to you that the candidate did not get the job (and the President is very much alive and well).
4) Cat Seance
One stands out for me. One interviewee told me she attended seances. FOR CATS! Yup, you heard it here first, it was like The Sixth Sense only she saw dead cats and not people.
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: Whether you see dead cats or even dead people, saying that in an interview position is highly unlikely to help you get the job. In fact, probably quite the opposite.
5) Why has your share price dropped for 3 quarters in a row?
I couldn’t believe it. I got to the end of the interview, thinking this candidate thinks far too much of himself for us, and asked him whether there were any questions he had. I was of course going through the motions and eager to get the next candidate in. To my utter surprise he asked: ‘Why has your share price dropped for 3 quarters in a row. And not even nicely, but more like nah nah nah nah nah! Donkey!
Total Shred Advice: you can get away with saying anything, if you just learn to say it right. Attacking the share price of a company is hardly going to get you a job in that company.
6) How Much Holiday Do I Get?
We work for a pretty strict investment bank. We all work long hours, evening and weekends. It’s considered the norm! Whenever someone comes in for an interview, we always explain how many hours we work. We explain how we are looking for hard working people who aren’t ‘pikers’. Recently I had just finished explaining that to a seemingly good candidate who replied by saying:
‘How much holiday do I get?’
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: If you want to come across looking keen for a position, asking about things like holiday time, days off, etc, paint the complete opposite picture.
7) How Long Will This Interview Last
Before the interview had even begun, the candidate kept looking at their watch. A lot. She wasn’t even being discreet. I couldn’t not say anything. I asked her if everything was ok. She replied by saying:
‘How long will this interview take? I have another interview to get to….’
I replied by saying ‘0 seconds, thanks for coming in.’
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: If you want to look like a viable candidate and stand a good chance to secure a job, talking about other interviews is probably not the best idea.
8) What Are Your Weaknesses? I’m a perfectionist…
Why oh why do people think that that’s a great answer that we as interviewers like to hear. It tells us you are unoriginal. Whenever I hear a candidate say that I just say thanks and good bye.
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: For the best candidate advice speak to friends or scour google for perfect answers. Giving boring, out dated responses will only irritate interviewers, not charm them.
9) Do You Provide Lunch Or Subsidise Travel?
In the middle of the interview, and quite out the blue, our candidate just interrupted me to ask if we provided lunch or refunded train travel. When I said no, he literally just got up and walked out.
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: Not really sure what to say here.
10) Not here for a job…
I was interviewing someone who just didn’t want to be there. His entire body language was off and he periodically kept checking his phone. I couldn’t help myself and asked him whether or not he even wanted the job. He said ‘I’m not here for a job, I just needed to come to the interview to keep the job centre happy’.
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: I’m not necessarily sure you are have to be THAT honest!
11) Want To Do A Line?
My boss at the time liked me to sit in the waiting room with candidates, acting like I am one. We could learn so much about a candidate by hanging with them, without them realising we were with the company that they were interviewing with. This one particular time I was speaking with a guy who was quite nervous. When it was just the 2 of us left in the waiting room, he leaned over and gently whispered: Hey, you wanna do a line?
I politely declined but his fate was sealed.
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: No words here. Don’t be this stupid!
12) That Receptionist is horrible
A candidate came in and sat in a chair opposite mine. He seemed flustered so before we began I asked him if everything was ok. He told me he was fine but that our company receptionist was just an awful person. I smiled, stood up and asked him to leave explaining that that receptionist was in fact my fiancé (wife now)…
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: Don’t go into a company hoping to get a job by slating people within the firm. Doesn’t make you look like a team player in the slightest.
13) I have a holiday booked!!
We were desperately looking for a new assistant. Our last one had just emigrated and we needed someone to start urgently. We called our final few candidates back in for a second interview. At this point we emphasised that the candidate that we were looking for needed to start urgently and couldn’t take a holiday for at least 6 months. I explained this over and over again to one particular lady to which she said:
I can start immediately, but I have a 10 day holiday booked in for a fortnight!
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: Listen to what the interviewer is looking for. Sometimes their circumstances will determine the type of candidate that they’ll need.
14) Time For An Uber
After I finished my interview, the candidate asked me if I could order them an Uber. I was a bit stunned and offered to call a local cab service, but he wanted me to pay for his cab home? Obviously he did not get the job.
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: Don’t be so cheap. This type of question is hardly going to land you your dream job.
15) DATING CO WORKERS
I remember calling someone in for an interview. Before he walked in, some on our team say that he kept learning at all the women in the office. I dismissed this as gossip and decided to give this candidate the best possible chance. But before I could even begin he sealed his own fate. His first and only question to me was: ‘What’s your policy on dating people from the office?’
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: Your future boss does not want to hear about your thought on people in the office. They want to hire someone who seems excited about going to work.
16) Can I Charge My Phone and What’s Your Wifi Password.
I could’t believe it. Just last week I interviewed someone. Before he even sat down, he went a found a wall socket and just plugged his phone in to charge. I didn’t know how to react, I had never seen anyone do this before. Initially I thought what an unprepared guy (charge your phone at home). But then I remembered how frustrating it could be to have a phone with low battery. I chose to ignore the plugging in of the phone. Well I tried to. At the end of the interview (which was quite short) – he asked if he could hang around in my office for another half an hour whilst his phone charged. At this point I decided not to ignore the charging phone and threw him, his phone and his phone charger out the.
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: Charge your phone at home.
We work for a sales organisation which is pretty high pressured. I always do the interviews here and ask all candidates how they cope with stress. We tell everyone that we are looking for highly motivated people. The type of person that would be in early, work hard and go home late. We found someone we liked and asked them what they’d do to demonstrate their level of motivation to us…They responded with a question: Can I work from home?
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: Listen to what the interviewer is asking for. They want someone motivated. Working from home is viewed as day off.
18) Sorry I was late.
We were expected to interview someone at 10am. He hadn’t arrived. At 11am my secretary called to tell me that the candidate had eventually arrived. I was not happy. I decided not to let them in without hearing their excuse for being late. If there was a genuine reason and I was convinced, I’d start the interview. I left my office and asked the candidate why he was late. Unashamedly he looked me in the eye and said: I’m really sorry I’m late. I was out drinking with the boys last night and woke up with a hangover.
I didn’t say a word, I just went back to my office – and to get some sort of revenge on the candidate, asked our maintenance team to run a fire drill. Aim was to make the hangover worse with the ringing of the bell.
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: If you are running late always call ahead. If you are hungover – don’t think for a second you’ll look cool by bragging about out of work exploits.
19) Reading A Lad’s Mag
We’re going back years now but I always tell people this story. At the time I was the CEO of a large company and we were interviewing for a position on our board. All the candidates had great education, good experience and a terrific resume. My guys would do all the first round interviews and I’d do the final one. I was interviewing someone and my phone rang. I had to take it, and whilst on the phone, the candidate took out a copy of a lad’s mag and began leafing through the pages right in front of me. Pausing only when in the middle. What a day that was.
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: Do not take nudey magazines and start reading them in an interview.
20) Where’s the closest tube station?
I was interviewing someone for the role of a mechanical engineer. The interview was extremely technical and usually after we explain what we needed, the mechanical engineer would fire back some questions to get a better grasp of the project. I asked the candidate what his questions were and he said ‘I just wanted to know where’s the closest tube station’.
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: Don’t ask stupid questions.
21) WIFI Password and POST
Last year I interviewed someone and before we could even get going, the candidate asked me if they could have my wifi password. I didn’t know what to say, so I just said no. It threw me a little and the candidate could see I wasn’t that interested. At the end of the interview the candidate gave me a letter (without a stamp) and asked me to place this in our outgoing mail pile. What the heck?
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: Don’t take the mick. Do not go in for an interview and ask for them to post your mail or ask for their WIFI password. I promise you it doesn’t put you in a good light.
22) RICH DAD
I asked a candidate recently WHY DO YOU WANT TO WORK HERE? To which she replied, I don’t! My dad won’t let me work for him until I get some experience, so here I am.
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: No one is going to hire someone if they don’t think you are committed. If you come from a well off family and intend to work for them one day, don’t tell that to anyone!!!
23) Your bum looks good in that skirt.
I couldn’t believe it. I was leading someone into be interviewed and before he had even sat down, he told me that my bum looked good in that skirt. I acted shocked and even though I know my bum LOOKED great – I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me that.
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: don’t hit on your interviewer. Don’t look around their office and comment on things you see. These techniques will only serve to frustrate the interviewers further.
24) Can’t Stand The Sight Of Blood
We wanted to end this on our favourite one. We had an email come in from someone who had clearly interviewed some really odd guys, eg. a past candidate told him that they were running late as the queues in McDonalds were simply too long. However his most recent interview left both him and us tickled. An interviewee told him that they couldn’t stand the sight of blood. And for a lot of that people that’s probably a normal thing to think and say. However, not when you’re applying for a job at the ambulance service!!!!
TOTAL SHRED ADVICE: no words
We hope you have enjoyed our list above, and we look forward to keeping your further entertained with more blogs. At this point, it should go without saying but should you require any shredding services – contact us today for the best possible quote!