Hiring Managers Share Why They Rejected Job Applicants And The Reasons Are Wild

"They were a full-time influencer who wanted us to make them famous."

Cover image via Resume Genius/Unsplash

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Note: Names have been changed to protect privacy. Submissions have been edited for clarity.

1. "They plagiarised their work from... us"

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Image via Andrew Neel/Unsplash

"My team lead interviewed a fresh grad for a writing internship. As part of our process, we send applicants an interview assignment to complete. This helps us see their writing ability, creativity, and how they handle instructions and briefs.

"We gave the candidate an old brief from our client, and they had to write an article based on the brief. When they emailed back their completed assignment, it didn't take long for us to realise they had copy pasted our actual published article for that brief. Sigh."

- Melissa, media industry

2. "They sent a beautiful cover letter that they never read because it was copy pasted from ChatGPT"

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Image via Jonathan Kemper/Unsplash

"I don't mind people using AI to enhance their work, in fact, I think it's a great tool that people should use. But this person sent in a very beautifully written cover letter, except that it was bulat-bulat copy pasted from ChatGPT. This applicant didn't even bother to check it or change names hahaha, it went something like this...

Certainly, I am happy to help you with your job application! Here's a sample cover letter you can send out:

Dear [Hiring Manager name],

I am writing to express my keen interest in [Company name]....

"At least read it first, and fill in the gaps lah, right? If they're that lazy with a simple cover letter, imagine what they're like at work."

- [Hiring Manager Name], Marketing Company

3. "The candidate required a daily nap"

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Image via Adrian Swancar/Unsplash

"The candidate was a fresh grad, looking for her first job. During the interview, she told us she needed to take a nap after lunch every day because it's part of her schedule since uni. She added that she expects to still be allowed to nap after her one-hour lunch break when we hire her for the full-time position.

"We asked if she had a medical condition and needed any support. She did not. She just wanted to nap. We did not hire her."

- This-Is-Not-Tadika, healthcare industry

4. "They kept badmouthing their previous workplace"

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Image via Christina @

"I had an interview where the candidate was ranting about their previous employer. We cut the interview short.

"Then, the candidate asked for feedback towards the end, so we said you really shouldn't rant about your previous employer like that. It's unprofessional and just, not a good look. The candidate apologised then started sharing the entire backstory and it turned into a therapy session that we really didn't want to be part of. 

"Their self awareness was so low."

- KK, advertising industry

5. "He demanded RM7K as a fresh grad pay and was not open to negotiate"

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Image via Hunters Race/Unsplash

"It's very simple. We were hiring a fresh grad position. I have a hiring budget. I emailed an applicant and asked him some questions about him, including his expected pay. He replied RM7,000 minimum. I told him it was above our budget, and thanked him for his time.

"He proceeded to email a long karangan about why he deserves at least RM7,000, stating that it is the industry standard for the position (it wasn't) and that studying in university is the same as work experience (it isn't)."

- Zeus, PR industry

6. "The applicant kept rolling his eyes and yawning in the interview"

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Image via Sander Sammy/Unsplash

"All round a bad vibe kinda person. Showed up to the interview 20 minutes late. Complained that there was no parking. Then, proceeded to keep rolling their eyes and yawning throughout the interview. Every question we asked was replied with answers like, 'ya I guess' or 'no, I don't know'.

"It didn't seem like they wanted the job at all so we just wrapped things up as fast as possible and showed them to the door."

- Jojo, corporate comms

7. "She kept referring to us as a 'stepping stone company' to look good on her resume"

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Image via Jordan Whitt/Unsplash

"When we asked her why she wanted to work for our company, she said she viewed us as a great 'stepping stone' and that with us on her resume, she would be able to get a better job elsewhere quicker. Her plan was to work with us for one or two years then leave to our competitor lol.  

"She also kept saying that she chose us because we look chill and fun, so she wouldn't have to work hard. I mean... we are chill and fun but we also work hard? Hahaha.

"I guess it's good that she's so honest??? But don't lah say things like that. Obviously, we didn't hire her."

- Phuket, social media marketing company

8. "They didn't show up"

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Image via Pawel Chu/Unsplash

"We waited 30 minutes then called them, they didn't answer. Messaged to ask if everything was okay and if they were on the way. Double blue tick. 

"Later that day, they emailed to say they forgot about the interview and asked if they could just start work the following week because they don't have a job at the moment and can join immediately. We politely declined."

- Bob, project manager

9. "The applicant's mum sat through the entire interview with us"

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Image via melanie de coster/Unsplash

"The applicant was a young freshie, around 25 years old. Her mum drove her to the interview and came up to the office waiting room with her, which is fine, honestly. But when we called the applicant into the room for the interview, her mum followed. 

"Almost every question we asked was answered by her mum. 'My daughter thinks that...', 'my daughter can do this and that', 'My daughter got straight-A's'. Any time the applicant wanted to answer, she would look at her mum first, and only with her mum's nod or encouragement would she say anything.

"It was such a weird experience.

"After the interview, her mum kept emailing and calling to follow up. We hiring this freshie or the mum actually? We decided not to hire either."

- Let Ur Child Be, law industry

10. "He said he wanted an easy job because he has other things to do"

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Image via Luis Villasmil/Unsplash

"The candidate said he just wanted an easy job with no stress because he has other things to do. The job we were hiring for is a full-time, permanent position with KPIs, like all jobs. I cannot guarantee that he will never feel stressed."

- Every Job Has Stress, aviation industry

11. "They were a 'full-time' influencer and wanted us to make them famous"

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Image via Laura Chouette/Unsplash

"We were hiring a video producer and this applicant had a resume that ticked all the boxes. It's a behind-the-scenes position that requires a lot of planning and organising, as well as creativity.

"But during the interview, the applicant announced that they were excited to start because they could use our studio and cameras for their personal account. This person called themselves a 'full-time influencer' and had less than 1,000 followers. 

"We were too tired to explain that office equipment is for office use only. Shouldn't that be common sense?

"They also said they were excited to grow their followers, be in our CLIENT ads, and be famous.

"This 'influencer' also said they would need a flexible work arrangement whereby they only come to the office once or twice a month. It's a video producer position. This person needs to be on set during video shoots. Video shoots happen more than once or twice a month. How to work from home? Dial in on a phone?"

- Dina, media agency

12. "They failed their reference check"

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Image via Mahdi Bafande/Unsplash

"This has actually happens very often. But this one stands out the most. The applicant went through the interview process and seemed like a good fit. We were close to offering them the position, and only had one final step, which was to check their references.

"The first contact was the applicant's previous manager. She basically said 'I think your company will be better off finding someone else'. I won't get into the details but this applicant apparently failed drug tests, went MIA, and had all kinds of behaviour issues.

"To give the applicant the benefit of the doubt, I called the second referee they had provided. It was a colleague from their current company. That colleague was shocked that he was put as a reference and told me that he did not recommend this applicant at all.

"The third referee was the applicant's lecturer who did not even remember them. We did not offer the applicant the job. 

"Please, update your references, only put referees on your resume with their consent, and choose people who have nice things to say about you."

- Cho, Human Resources in an MNC

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