Bunny Slippers, Intoxication and Stolen Donuts: The Worst Job Seeker Habits

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Express Employment Professionals surveys reveal the worst interview habits from both job seekers and employers; lateness most common complaint.

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An interview is an opportunity to show your future employer your full potential. If you don’t show you care about the interview or respect the time and influence of the person who will hire you, no one will believe you’ll care about doing a good job.

Unemployment may be low, but so, too, is the behavior of some job applicants.

“On the way, without asking, he grabbed a donut, brought it into my office and proceeded to eat it during the interview.”

“A person wanted to show me they could do the splits and a back handspring.”

“A lady showed up wearing bunny slippers.”

Express Employment Professionals recently surveyed business leaders about the most shocking interview behaviors they had witnessed. And the responses were indeed shocking.

“I was interviewing a registered nurse who ate through the entire interview,” wrote one respondent. “First, a banana...then, a jar of peanuts...then, an apple! All while I was asking her questions. At the conclusion of the interview, she handed me her banana peel, apple core and empty peanut jar to throw away.”

Certainly, such behavior is the exception, not the rule. But there are plenty of unprofessional behaviors that interviewers witness regularly.

Express asked respondents, “Which of these behaviors have you witnessed from a job candidate during an interview?” Respondents were able to choose multiple answers.

  • 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.

Comedians Tripp and Tyler parody how to improve interviewing for jobs on behalf of Express, but these tips aren’t just applicable for job seekers. Shocking interview behavior is a two-way street. Express also surveyed job applicants, and they report some surprising behaviors from interviewers as well. Respondents were also able to choose multiple answers.

  • 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.”

Express experts have witnessed many of these behaviors in their careers.

Jan Riggins, general manager for two Fort Worth, Texas, office locations, says she’s seen applicants “answering personal calls in the interview, bringing beverages and food, wearing clothes that appear to be sleepwear and bringing friends or family members to the interview.”

“The most common mistake I see during job interviews,” she added, “is immediately asking about vacations and pay and how long it takes to be promoted.”

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

She also said her office had a 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.”

Brady believes that the unprofessional behavior is because applicants “have never been taught or coached, and no one is willing to give feedback.”

Tracy Underwood, Express Oklahoma regional director, has seen people interview “with earbuds in” and “sunglasses on.”

Todd Isaacson, a franchise owner in Longmont, Colorado, was appalled to watch one applicant “bite her fingernails” and “pick off fingernail polish” through the entire interview.

Terri Greeno, a franchise owner in Crystal Lake, Illinois, recalls a phone interview in which an applicant “actually put the HR director on hold so he could place his order at the drive through.”

Job applicants—and interviewers—must remember that in an interview, everything will be scrutinized. Express provides Job Genius, a free video-based program for students, to help the future workforce with everything from interviewing etiquette to soft skills for career success.

Greeno counsels, “Focus on what you can bring to the company or the position for which you’re interviewing. Don’t make the interview all about you and what you want from them.”

And as Jan Riggins noted, “Almost all interactions with a company during an interview process are part of the decision-making process, from the moment you meet the receptionist, to any interaction with others in the organization.”

“An interview is an opportunity to show your future employer your full potential,” said Bill Stoller, CEO of Express. “If you don’t show you care about the interview or respect the time and influence of the person who will hire you, no one will believe you’ll care about doing a good job. If you answer a phone call during an interview, you might as well tell the caller you didn’t get the job—because it’s a pretty safe bet you won’t. Interviewers need to be self-aware, too. In this tight labor market, the smallest thing could turn off a qualified candidate, and that’s not something you can afford.”

The survey of 310 business leaders and decision makers was conducted in June 2019 through the Express Refresh Leadership blog. The survey of 212 job seekers was conducted in June 2019 through the Express Job Journey blog.

If you would like to arrange for an interview with Bill Stoller to discuss this topic, please contact Sheena Karami, Director of Corporate Communications and PR, at (405) 717-5966.

About Bill Stoller
William H. "Bill" Stoller is chairman and chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the international staffing company has more than 800 franchises in the U.S., Canada and South Africa. Since its inception, Express has put more than 7.7 million people to work worldwide.

About Express Employment Professionals
Express Employment Professionals puts people to work. It generated $3.56 billion in sales and employed a record 566,000 people in 2018. Its long-term goal is to put a million people to work annually. For more information, visit ExpressPros.com.

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Sheena Karami
@ExpressPros
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