Don’t do THIS in a job interview! Recruitment expert reveals the funniest fails

HALF-NAKED men to applicants bringing their mums: as record numbers of Brits apply for new jobs on Massive Monday, recruitment expert James Reed reveals the biggest job interview disasters

a naked man at an interview

Disappointingly, undressing for success rarely works in a formal interview.

We’ve had Black Friday, now get ready for Massive Monday.The first Monday of the New Year (for this year it’s Monday, January 5) traditionally sees an enormous surge in enquiries and applications for new jobs.We all think we know the basic dos and don’ts of interview preparation and etiquette and yet some people seem to have missed that memo.

James Reed is the chairman of the Reed group of companies which includes Reed Specialist Recruitment and the recruitment website

On Massive Monday last year the website received over half a million enquiries and 180,000 job applications and James expects applications to top 200,000 this year.

It’s fair to say that he’s seen and heard it all.

Yet even he was surprised by some of the shocking anecdotes he heard when he was researching his latest book, Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again.

From inappropriate states of dress (and undress) to overzealous spousal and family support, James reveals some of the biggest blunders people have made when applying for jobs.

And yes, somebody really did turn up with saucepan lids on their person…



Simon Cowell wearing a saucepan hat on Britain's Got Talent

Recipe for success: Simon Cowell wearing a saucepan hat on Britain’s Got Talent

1. Undressed for success? Everyone knows the old adage ‘dress for success’ and job interviews must rank up there with weddings and court appearances (often soon after weddings) as the time to put your best foot forward.As in so many crucial social interactions, in an interview you will be judged instantly on your appearance before a word has been spoken.

One candidate (thankfully a male) turned up for an important interview wearing simply jeans and no top.

He might have lost his shirt in this difficult economy but there is no excuse for shoddy appearances.

Unless, of course, he was applying for a postion as a go-go dancer.


2. Recipe for disaster:

By all mean throw everything but the kitchen sink into your interview preparation and execution.

However, maybe you should leave any actual kitchen implements at home.

One candidate arrived at a job interview with saucepan lids stitched into the lining of their coat.

When asked the reason for this, they explained that it was “for protection” (yes, we’re confused too!).

Quite possibly it was some form of extreme preventative measure to combat mobile phone radiation.

However, the only thing it protected them against on that particular day was getting a job.

woman trying on lots of shoes

Footwear should remain firmly in place at all times during an interview

3. Keep your shoes on!Don’t just keep your hat on in stressful interview situations – please also try and keep footwear firmly in place.Perhaps concerned that her shoes weren’t sealing the deal, one female candidate actually offered to change them half-way through questioning.

She may well have thought that she was demonstrating initiative or resourcefulness as she halted proceedings and took out the entire contents of her bag to show the extra shoes she had brought.

In return, the only thing she was shown was the door.

man skyping in bed

Dress appropriately for a skype interview!

3. The perils of skype:One of the pleasures of working from home is that you can wear whatever you like.

Some people find it still helps to dress as if they were going to an office, but others find wearing casual clothes or even staying in their sleepwear helps release their creativity.

This is perfectly fine in general and poses no problems whenever you have to conduct business over the phone.

But please remember that the point of skype is that both parties can see each other.

Perhaps this did not occur to the unfortunate gentleman who conducted his entire interview by skype – dressed in his pyjamas.

From the dreadful first impression that this inevitably created, it’s safe to say that he probably shouldn’t have bothered to get out of bed.

main with crazy hair

Sorry, sensible haircuts are usually best for a job interview.

4. Avoid comedy hair (everywhere):Amusing, extravagant or experimental hair styles should probably be avoided when you go for an interview.

The same applies for novelty facial topiary.

And yet, one colleague remembers a candidate turning up with only one eyebrow.


6. Fishing for compliments…It is possible (and possibly quite productive) to draw comparisons between job hunting and a fishing expedition.You need to bait your hook, wait for the right opportunity and reel it in.

See, we would have landed that job interview for a metaphor expert hook, line and sinker.

Unfortunately, this was not the position on offer – nor was it a job at a tackle shop – when one gentleman turned up wearing a fishing hat full of bait.

He may have been angling for success, but the whole thing was slightly fishy.

a family interview

It’s probably best not to bring spouses and children to your interview!

7. Leave mums, spouses, BFFs and cheerleaders at home!Yes, you gotta have friends – just not at an interview.A shocking number of recruitment agents reported stories of candidates turning up with support teams in tow.

The majority brought along a best friend, but others came with extended members of the family (including, but not limited to, aunts and uncles).

One applicant brought their mum but left her in the lobby.

James Reed Why You 101 interview questions you’ll never fear again
8. Confident, articulate and capable:It really should be no surprise that these are three of the main things a potential employer would like you to be.None of these criteria were met by the unassertive man who took his wife into an interview with him – where, unsurprisingly, she proceeded to answer most of the questions on his behalf!

Hopefully he learned from that absolutely disastrous experience – while we learned who wears the trousers in that relationship.