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Job candidates who made a strong impression, but the wrong impression

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 21, 2011; 11:13 PM

One would think that in an economy where unemployment is high, applicants for the precious few job openings would be on their best behavior.

But many people just can't help but show their true selves, even when so much is at stake, according to a new nationwide CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,400 hiring managers. The managers reported some of the really outrageous actions of job candidates.

Can we just take this opportunity to shake off our economic blues to have a laugh at the way some job applicants behave? They won't know.

One manager reported that a job-seeker ate all the sweets from the candy dish while trying to answer questions. Maybe the applicant hadn't eaten before the interview, as experts advise, and suddenly got so hungry he couldn't control himself. He didn't want his rumbling stomach to be a distraction.

Another person blew her nose and lined up the used tissues on the table in front of her. She was just being meticulous, right?

Or what about the guy who wore a hat to the interview that said, "Take this job and shove it?" Just demonstrating a sense of humor?

One man tossed his beer can in the outside trash bin before coming into the reception office. How thoughtful he was to throw it outside so clients wouldn't think the company tolerated drinking on the job.

In the survey, one manager reported a candidate brought in a copy of a college diploma, but it was obvious that liquid white-out had been used to add the person's name to the document. Maybe the school spelled the person's name wrong on the diploma.

Here are some other things that job candidates did:

lArrived for the interview accompanied by a parent. The positive spin: The woman didn't want to be late and her mother is always on time.

lBrought confidential documents from a previous employer. The positive spin: He doesn't lose track of important papers.

lConfided she was a witch. The positive spin: Think of the advantage you might have over competitors.


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