12 recruiters reveal their biggest job interview pet peeves
Do any of these things and—even if you're the best candidate on paper—your resume will find its way into the trash.
Everyone has a pet peeve. A small, seemingly-innocuous thing that causes high amounts of aggravation for the offended party. Now, if you commit a pet peeve of your spouse’s—maybe you let the dirty dishes stay dirty just a little too long—you might get a snippy remark or a cold shoulder.
Commit a recruiter’s pet peeve on a job interview, and you’ve lost out on the chance at a job.
We asked a few of those on the hiring side to share their biggest turnoffs. If you’re doing one of these things, you can add some time to your expected job search.
I’ve got buy-in for my KPIs
My biggest red flag when I interview a potential hire is when a candidate uses a ton of buzz words without any substance behind them. When used correctly, these terms are OK, but if you're saying them without relating it to something useful, then it makes me think you're full of it.
— Ron Sinai, founder and COO of Nova Legal Funding in Los Angeles
Let me tell you about my old boss...
Talking negatively or complaining about former employers. It shows lack of maturity and it shows the interviewer that the candidate could just as easily say the same things about their new employer. It's OK to talk about a "less than ideal situation," but never make yourself the victim or blame your former employer.
— James Meincke, marketing manager at CloserIQ in New York City
I think *cough cough* I’m the right fit *cough*
It drives me crazy when I can hear a candidate smoking on the other end of the phone and their answers are delayed.
— Kevin Raxter, managing partner of The Centrics Group in Norcross, Georgia
I think this company could be part of my 12-month plan
Frequent job hops and a resume that lacks succinct career progression (such as less than a year of employment, unless you’re consulting), is a turnoff.
— Amber Jackson, director of talent acquisition at LISNR in Cincinnati
I’ll get a corner office, right?
When the candidate puts out demands shortly after "Hello," as in, "If your position will not pay me at least $89,000, I am not going to waste my time talking to you." True story.
— Jo Elle Weech, founder and president of Exemplary Consultants, LLC in the Washington, D.C., metro area
Could I put you on hold for a sec?
When job candidates answer a phone call with “What?” or “Who’s this?” When searching for a job, any type of rudeness is a complete turn off.
— Sarah Benz, lead recruiter for the Messina Group in Chicago
When a candidate gives one-word answers. It's uncomfortable and no one wants an employee who needs to be led by the hand.
— Gail Abelman, founder and president of Staffing Perfection in Atlanta
Hey, can I borrow that?
A really big turnoff is a candidate who shows up without a pen and paper. Do you think no one will say anything worth writing down and remembering during your interview?
— Barbara Marks, head of recruiting at eVestment in Atlanta
I was kind of the manager, and did some stuff
Not being specific about previous experience makes it difficult for the recruiter to understand what exactly candidate has accomplished as well as how the candidate would operate in a similar environment.
—Lori Rinn, vice president of talent acquisition at Consultants 2 Go in Newark, New Jersey
Whatever you want is fine, I guess...
My biggest turnoff is a passive candidate. A strong candidate should be passionate and take an active role in developing their career strategy and identifying opportunities that are a perfect fit for their skill set and career goals.
— Sarah Frankel, founder and CEO of the525group in New York City
Can’t wait to do whatever it is your company does!
My biggest turnoff in a candidate is when he or she doesn’t do proper research on a company before an interview. The candidate should know the industry, sector and general purpose of the company.
— Kevin McCarthy, director of sales and marketing at Fillmore Search Group in San Francisco
Dear [hiring manager], I look forward to working at [company name here]
The biggest candidate turnoff that we encounter is blind applications where individuals apply for any and all openings without regard for the requirements indicated in the posting. For a recent mechanical design engineering posting, we received more than 100 applicant resumes, and only two of them had the requisite industry experience.
— Cliff Rusnak, managing principal of Management Recruiters of Wicker Park in Chicago