- Most job candidates prepare to answer certain questions before their job interview to present themselves in the best possible light.
- Other candidates seem to give the worst possible answer for a given situation.
- We asked HR professionals, recruiters, and CEOs to share some of the worst responses they have heard from candidates, from a candidate who said he “crushed 10 keg stands” to another who admitted to slashing someone’s tires.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Even difficult questions, like the infamous “what is your biggest weakness?” can be answered gracefully.
But what about the worst ways to answer questions about why you applied for this job or your greatest accomplishment?
We spoke with human-resources professionals, recruiters, and executives who assured us the wrong way to answer these questions did exist – and they shared some of the most cringeworthy responses they have heard during job interviews.
Here are 13 things it’s safe to say you should never give as an answer in a job interview.
One candidate said, “It seems like there are worse companies than you out there.”
Asking a candidate why they wanted to work in the role they applied for seemed easy enough to William Taylor, the career development manager at MintResume. However, the candidate wasn’t prepared to answer.
“The candidate told me, ‘I looked on Google, and it seems like there are worse companies than you out there,'” Taylor said.
Taylor told Business Insider that this same candidate also arrived at the interview late and could not answer questions about what the company did.
“There is no excuse for a lack of preparation,” Taylor said. “If you can’t be bothered to win the job, what will you be like once you’re in it?”
Another candidate once revealed partway through the interview that she was actually there to get a job for her husband, not for herself.
Anayet Chowdhury, the CEO of ArgoPrep, told Business Insider about a time where an interview for a content-creator position wasn’t what it seemed.
“When I asked how the candidate would be an asset to the company, they replied that they were actually there on their husband’s behalf because they thought he would be a great candidate for the position,” Chowdhury said.
Wait, who would be the great candidate? Was it the person who went to the interview or the husband?
“I asked again to clarify who was applying for the position: this person or their husband,” Chowdhury said. “The candidate said it was her husband. I was incredibly confused given that I was looking at her résumé, and we were speaking for a few minutes prior before she revealed she was applying on behalf of her husband.”
One potential hire revealed to the interviewer that they lied about having a college degree on their résumé.
“I noticed a candidate I was interviewing went to a certain school, and I asked what they studied,” Martyn Bassett, the CEO of Martyn Bassett Associates, said. “The candidate replied, ‘Oh, is that still on there? I don’t actually have a degree. My last job required one to get in the door, so I made that up.'”
When asked what she liked to do outside work, one candidate rolled her eyes and said, “Why in the world would you care?”
Danielle Kunkle Roberts, the cofounder of Boomer Benefits, told Business Insider that she liked to ask candidates to “tell me a little about yourself outside of work” during job interviews.
“Sometimes, the answer can give you clues to a person’s emotional and mental well-being or whether they are an introvert or an extrovert, which might be relevant for a certain position,” she said.
When Kunkle Roberts asked this question during an interview for a sales position, it turned out to be a deal breaker for the candidate.
“The candidate rolled her eyes at me and replied ‘I never understand why interviewers ask this irrelevant question. Why in the world would you care what I do outside of work?”’ Kunkle Roberts said.
The candidate then went on to share a little more information about her interests, but Kunkle Roberts had heard enough.
“The question served its exact purpose,” Kunkle Roberts told Business Insider.
When asked to describe a time he used teamwork to achieve a goal, one candidate started talking about winning a game of “NBA 2K,” a video game.
Phil Risher, the owner of Phlash Consulting, received a highly unusual response from one potential hire who he asked to describe a time he used teamwork to achieve a goal.
“The answer, after a long puzzled pause, was, ‘When I play ‘2K’ [a popular basketball video game] with my friends, we have to work together to beat the other team,'” Risher said.
One candidate bragged that she “loved being on unemployment” because “you get paid to do nothing.”
Bob Bentz, the president of Advanced Telecom Services, once interviewed a candidate for a marketing position. Bentz noticed the candidate had a six-month gap in their résumé and asked what they had been doing over the past six months.
“The candidate cheerfully said that she was laid off so she had been enjoying her unemployment, but now that was soon running out,” Bentz said.
Bentz told Business Insider that the candidate also told him, “‘I loved being on unemployment. You get paid to do nothing. It was fabulous.'”
Another candidate said they would do their assigned work while on the clock at another job.
Nicole Eller, the vice president of The Spark Social, told Business Insider she was conducting phone interviews for a remote position when she asked a candidate, “Where do you see our work fitting in your current schedule?”
“They told me not to worry because they didn’t do anything at their current job and would just handle our assignments while they were on the clock,” Eller said.
“That one went right into the ‘nope’ pile,” she said.
When asked to describe their greatest accomplishment, one candidate talked about a time he “crushed 10 keg stands.”
Ellen Mullarkey, the vice president of business development at the Messina Group, said she has received many strange responses to the question “What’s your greatest accomplishment to date?” over the years, but told Business Insider about the one response that stood out.
“I asked a candidate this question and he said, ‘This one time I totally crushed 10 keg stands in one night, and I wasn’t even hung over the next day,'” Mullarkey said.
A candidate once admitted to slashing their ex-boyfriend’s tires.
Russ Nauta, the owner of Credit Card Reviews, said he once received a frightening answer when he asked if there was something the interviewer wouldn’t know about them based on their résumé.
“She responded, ‘Well, my ex-boyfriend placed a restraining order against me after I slashed his tires because that jerk cheated on me,'” he told Business Insider.
And another described his flatulence as a time he overcame an obstacle at work.
Maria Vorovich, the cofounder of Goodques, interviewed candidates for an account-management position alongside a colleague when she asked a candidate to describe a time he overcame a difficult obstacle at work.
“He responded, ‘One time, I farted.’ Then, he continued to explain in detail the sights, smells, and sounds associated with the event,” Vorovich said.
One interviewee said his biggest weakness was being “just too sexy for most people to handle.”
When asked what their biggest weakness was, one candidate’s response was rather inappropriate, according to Tammy Johnson, the CEO of High Spirits Hospitality.
“The candidate, who was interviewing for a waiter position, said, ‘I’m just too sexy for most people to handle. It causes problems,'” Johnson told Business Insider.
One exec said two different candidates told him they were more interested in sitting on a couch and watching TV than working on anything at all.
Bruce Hurwitz, the president of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, said that when interviewing two separate candidates for separate positions, he asked them “if you could have any job, what would it be?”
To his dismay, their answers were identically disappointing.
“I once had two candidates, for different positions in the nonprofit sector, tell me that their dream job would be to sit on the couch and watch TV. One was a man, the other was a woman, and they were serious,” Hurwitz said.
Hurwitz tried to salvage the interviews by asking if either candidate meant that becoming a TV critic was their dream job.
“They both said no. They really wanted to get paid just to sit around all day and watch television,” Hurwitz told Business Insider.
And one candidate tried to hang out at the office and drink a beer after the interview.
When asked what their plans were after the interview, a candidate’s response shocked Edward Coram James, the CEO of Go Up.
“The candidate asked me, ‘Is it ok if I grab a beer and just hang out around here for a little bit? This is a really nice office,'” James told Business Insider. “It was an utterly jaw-dropping answer – for obvious reasons.”
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