What not to say in a job interview

by Betty Lochner on October 28, 2010

Sometimes I am surprised at how poorly people communicate in special situations.  Take a job interview, for example. Isn’t  it common sense to be very careful about what you say and how you portray yourself to a future employer? Wouldn’t you want to say things that will help your chances of a job offer?

Well, as a manager of 25 years, I have found that for some people, common sense isn’t always so common.  The following are  a collection of actual responses given by job candidates to questions asked at job interviews.  Some are from my experience and some I’ve collected from others.

I’m pretty sure none of these candidates got hired.  But, the responses are sure good for a laugh!

What do you know about this Company?

“I got a brochure in the lobby, but I haven’t read it yet.”

“You get 10 holidays off.”

“I don’t know. I’m just applying for everything.”

“I think it has something to do with filing.”

Why Are You Interested in this Position?

“To keep my parole officer from putting back me in jail.”

“I have to apply for jobs to keep my unemployment.”

“As you know, finding full time employment is very difficult right now. I have applied to over 100 positions in the last year and no one will hire me.”

Why Do You Want to Work for This Company?

My spouse is interviewing for job here so I need to be hired here too.”

“Just for the benefits.”

” It will look really neat on my resume for applying for other jobs.”

“I don’t know anything about the company, can you tell me?”

Can You Tell Us More about Your Experience?

“Gosh, I’m even more computer illiterate than my resume shows.”

“You have had 2 weeks to review my resume yet you still want to know about my experience? This is so typical of Human Resources.”

“It’s all in my resume.”

“That is personal information that I am not comfortable with sharing.”

Why Should We Hire You?

“If you don’t hire me, it will prove that the company’s management is incompetent.”

“If you hire me, I will have the company logo tattooed to my forearm.”

“I would be a great asset to the events team because I party all the time.”

Describe Your Ideal Job.

“I don’t know…I haven’t had it yet.”

“What a ridiculous question to ask.”

“I’ll tell you what I don’t want to be doing – sitting in boring meetings, doing grunt work and having to be nice to people all day long.”

“I’d like yours.”

What Are Your Weaknesses?

“I get angry easily and I went to jail for it but I’m better now.”

“I didn’t think you were allowed to ask that question in a job interview.”

“I am saving that information until I get hired.”

What Motivates You?

“I’ve got a big house, a big car and a big credit card balance. Pay me and I’ll be happy.”

“Salary is very important, my gambling debts are rising.”

“My main motivation is money, anyone who says otherwise is a damned liar.”

Why Did You Leave Your Previous Employment?

“I have a problem with authority.”

“I was dating my boss’s daughter and she is married.”

“My boss was stupid and would always argue with me about how to do my job.”

“I called in sick when I wasn’t and got caught.”

Do You Have Any Questions about the Job?

“What if I woke in the morning and didn’t feel like coming to work?”

“How many women work here?”

“If you were a fruit, what kind of fruit would you be?”

“When you run background checks on candidates, do arrests come up?”

“Are all the staff as cute as you?”

My favorite is the answer “I’d like yours”, when asked about their ideal job.  Which answer is your favorite?


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christine Morris November 7, 2010 at 9:42 am

Great Post Betty! These are so true, recently I had someone ask if I will pay them more than their unemployment! I almost fell off my chair!

2 Diane November 7, 2010 at 7:45 am

Very funny and sad at the same time. I once worked in a jewelry store when a very nice, sppropriately dressed young man came in to apply for a job. He interviewed very well and was about to be hireed when he mentioned to the manager that he had been incarcerated previously and he wanted to be upfront with that. When asked what for…wait for it.., robbery.

3 Sharon Larson November 3, 2010 at 3:33 am

Wow! I’m smiling at the thought that some of these responses may not have prevented that person from being hired. My favorite answer to “Why should we hire you?” is “If you don’t hire me, it will prove that the company’s management is incompetent.” There’s nothing like extreme arrogance to mess up a job interview. 🙂

4 Kimberly November 1, 2010 at 12:49 pm

My favorite is: “You have had 2 weeks to review my resume yet you still want to know about my experience? This is so typical of Human Resources.”

I cringed a little, not because I said anything on the list, but because I remember some really bad job interviews when I was in my early twenties. I hope their teaching kids better responses now-a-days.

5 Betty Lochner October 29, 2010 at 9:37 pm

The funniest part is that really happened to me. Someone said they wanted my job in the interview!

6 Norma Maxwell October 29, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Betty – what a hoot! This is just what I needed tonight…I nice big laugh 🙂 Thanks. It’s hard to believe these are for real…lol. My favorite is the answer to what is your ideal job, the answer: ‘yours’ – that is priceless. Thanks for making my night. Cheers ~Norma

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