Six Ways to Ensure You Don't Get the Job

Simple Ways to Make a Terrible Impression in a Job Interview

Six Ways to Ensure You Don't Get the Job

By Larry Buhl, Monster Contributing Writer

Different jobs require different qualities in an employee -- so what a hiring manager is looking for will vary from interview to interview. But there are some behaviors that decision-makers agree are especially annoying. We asked several hiring managers for their interviewee pet peeves -- and for their take on what job applicants can do to get their resumes tossed into the recycling bin.

If you're looking for a job, be warned.

Send a Follow-Up "thx 4 mtg" Text Message

Kristin Terdik, inside sales support director of Technekes in Charlotte, North Carolina, laments the lost art of professional interview thank-you notes that feature actual words on real paper. "Candidates directly out of school think they can send you a text message or an invitation to a social networking site, and that counts as a thank-you note," she says. "It doesn't count, but so many entry-level people are doing it now I'm forced to cut them some slack."

Peggy Rosenblatt, senior vice president for AKRF, an environmental planning and engineering consulting firm based in New York City, is less forgiving. "If I don't get a well-written thank-you note as a follow up, they're out," she says.

Ask, 'What Does Your Company Do?'

"If candidates don't have the curiosity or interest to do their homework on our Web site, then I am not interested in them," says Rosenblatt.

Bring the Family

Erin Duddy, a recruiter at a small staffing firm in Raleigh, North Carolina, has been unpleasantly surprised when a candidate brings a baby or a child to an interview. "If you absolutely must bring children to the company, at least clear it ahead of time," she recommends.

A hiring manager at a Florida hospital adds that bringing a spouse or parent to the interview -- or letting a loved one negotiate your salary and benefits for you -- is one way to ensure you'll get no salary and benefits.

Use Your Cell in the Meeting

Hiring managers say they're seeing more candidates use their cellphones to send text messages or take personal calls during interviews -- but that doesn't make the behavior any more acceptable.

John M. O'Connor, president of Career Pro, adds that even using electronics in the waiting room can reflect negatively on you. "Executive assistants often tell the boss everything, and if they see you constantly using your PDA, it may give the impression that you're unfocused or easily distracted," he says.

Don't Smile. Or Laugh Too Much. Or Cry

O'Connor says that a smile and a sense of humor are crucial in interviews, no matter what the job may be. "Hiring managers have told me, 'This person is great on paper -- but he's so intense and humorless in person, I would never want to go to lunch with him,'" he says.

On the other hand, Frank Papa, operating partner at H.I.G. Capital in North Carolina, warns against undue giddiness. "When a candidate laughs all the says they are trying too hard to be accepted and be liked."

Then again, laughter may be better than tears. "I hate interviewing someone who is so nervous they cannot answer the questions and then break down and cry," says Isabella Tagore, a recruiting consultant based in Southern California.

Come with Your Own Beverages

Many hiring managers dislike it when people bring their own take-out cups of coffee to drink during an interview, according to career strategist Barbara Safani. It can come across as far too informal. And if you bring a child's Hello Kitty lunch box containing utensils to brew your own tea -- as one candidate did when meeting Terdik -- you will be memorable -- but not in a good way.