Kate Lorenz, CareerBuilder.com Editor
The interview is the most critical point in the job search process. While you might look great on paper, the real test starts when you get in front of a hiring manager. You’ve got the skills, now you need to prove that you’ll be a good fit with your future co-workers and company. And it’s oh-so-easy to sabotage that much-coveted and highly-valuable face time. According to a recent CareerBuilder.com survey of 866 hiring managers, almost 70 percent recalled unusual behavior by job candidates. While the usual suspects did come up, some of their experiences were downright jaw-dropping. Here are some examples of how not to behave in an interview: Hugh Hefner Wants His Pants Back Clothes make the man (or woman) and what you wear has a direct impression on a hiring manager. Comfortable clothes will curb your nervousness, but that doesn’t mean you should wear pajama bottoms like one job seeker did. The company dress policy may be casual, but save the Goth clothes and socks with slippers until you get the job. If you’re hitting the beach after your interview, it doesn’t give you license to wear your bathing suit and flip flops. And seriously guys, the flashy medallion on a bed of chest hair will not impress anyone. I’m With the Band Unless you’re in need of a seeing eye dog, you shouldn’t bring an animal or another person with you to an interview. It seems like common sense. Nevertheless, many a job seeker has brought a companion along on the interview including a child, spouse, friend, pet and even the entire family. An invitation to a job interview never includes a guest. Have You Tried Hypnosis? They might be normal to you, but to others, some personal quirks are downright frightening. Those things you do in the privacy of your own home are not meant to come out in front of someone you are trying to impress. During an interview candidates have chewed gum, lit cigarrettes, picked their nails, passed gas, burped, picked their noses, scratched various body parts, laughed erratically and even spit. Make sure to check this behavior at the door. Intoxicating Ways Some things are strictly taboo at work, and you should behave in an interview like you would on the job. Alcohol impairs your judgment, as do drugs (not to mention they’re against the law). They should be off limits — but some job seekers don’t think so. Job seekers openly admitted drug use and arrived at the interview high, intoxicated or hung over. One thirsty candidate requested whiskey, while another brought his own wine. Another asked if he would get the job even if he didn’t pass the drug test. And one candidate simply left the interview after finding out about company drug testing. Truth is Stranger Than Fiction And then there are the incidents that are just plain bizarre, perhaps provoked by ambition, a desire to impress, or anxiety. One candidate constructed a shoebox diorama of himself on the job. Another did a Ben Stiller imitation. One job seeker offered a sexual favor to the interviewer. Still another knitted during the entire interview. And another barked at the hiring manager. Kate Lorenz is the article and advice editor for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.