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Taking phone calls, being intoxicated and other job interview don’ts

July 11, 2019

From taking phone calls during job interviews to showing up under the influence of drugs, Express Employment Professionals surveyed business leaders and job seekers about the most inappropriate activities they have seen during job interviews.

In one case, a candidate grabbed a doughnut without asking then proceeded to eat it during the interview; another job seeker arrived wearing bunny slippers.

Here’s what the business leaders said they have seen while interviewing candidates:

  • 85% report a job candidate “showing up late.”
  • 83% report a job candidate with “inappropriate clothing.”
  • 49% report a job candidate with “inappropriate language.”
  • 48% report a job candidate “eating or chewing gum.”
  • 39% report a job candidate “responding to text messages.”
  • 37% report a job candidate “answering a phone call.”
  • 31% report a job candidate “bringing a child into the interview.”
  • 31% report a job candidate “bringing a friend into the interview.”
  • 26% report a job candidate “bringing a parent into the interview.”
  • 24% report a job candidate being “under the influence” of drugs or alcohol.

“Aggressive pushback is usually the most shocking,” said Janis Petrini, an Express franchise owner in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In response to a question about job history, Petrini said one job candidate said it was “none of your business.”

She saw another candidate “use his phone from the moment he sat at the desk until the moment he walked out of the door. He took several phone calls, a video chat and posted to his social media — and then proceeded to rush through the rest of the interview process.”

Mike Brady, franchise owner of the Jacksonville West office in Florida, said not only did an applicant take a phone call, the applicant “even held up a finger telling me to wait.”

Job candidates reported inappropriate behavior by their interviewers as well:

  • 63% report an interviewer “showing up late.”
  • 58% report having an interviewer with a “lack of preparation.”
  • 51% report an interviewer “answering a phone call.”
  • 39% report an interviewer “oversharing.”
  • 30% report an interviewer “asking discriminatory questions.”
  • 28% report an interviewer “wearing inappropriate clothing.”

An interview is an opportunity for a candidate to showcase his or her full potential, candidates who show they don’t care likely won’t get the job, Express CEO Bill Stoller said. But interviewers also need to be self-aware.

“In this tight labor market, the smallest thing could turn off a qualified candidate, and that’s not something you can afford,” Stoller said.

The report was based on a survey of 310 business leaders and 212 job seekers.

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