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Interviewing is like dating. You never know what you’re going to get until you’re in too deep.

Throughout my years as a recruiter and hiring manager, I’ve been a part of some outrageous interviews, from those looking to find employment through my company and those looking to get promoted within the company. It’s a tricky process. And sometimes it feels like there’s a secret code that no one talks about.

In my attempt to help make your inevitable career transition (at some point) easier, I’m putting together some free resources for you to keep on file. I’ve surveyed dozens of hiring managers and recruiters and have put together a short list of 6 things EVERY interviewer hates.

Some of them seem obvious and some even seem petty but interviewers are a sticky bunch. The more you understand them (agreeing with them or not isn’t the point), the better your chances of getting a job or getting ahead.

6 Things


1. Having No Questions

A good interviewer will spend time preparing to meet you. They’ll look over your resume, they’ll check your references (eventually), they’ll look at your social media accounts. They take the job of meeting with you seriously. Nothing irritates them more than interviewing someone who hasn’t put in the time to come prepared. Have a few questions ready to ask.

Do ask about:

What it takes to be successful in this job

Why the position is open

The interview process and how you stack up

Company culture and values

Don’t ask about:

Money (in the first interview at least)

A different position (get this job first)

*Benefits are usually discussed at the second interview

2. A Persona

As interviewers and hiring managers, we see a lot of types. Although many are authentic, others are obviously a characteur of what you think an interviewer is looking for. As an interviewer, I’m wondering not only if you can do the job but if you’ll represent the company well. As yourself.

If you’re introvert, be that. If you love a challenge, say so. Be yourself. It’ll eventually come out if you get the job!

Examples of annoying personas:

The “yes” person. I’m not suggesting you be confrontational but if you don’t truly love spreadsheets and they’re a big part of the job, don’t say you love them.

The overly confident. Confidence is great, in moderation. As with the point above, showing ambition is smart but this interview is about this position. Often the overly confident want to showcase their drive by mentioning a future leadership position they’d be interested in but it’s a total turnoff to the interviewer.

The all-too-comfy. A good interviewer will be able to get you talking. That’s great! Open up and be yourself. However, remember that you’re still in an interview so don’t get too chummy. Particularly squirrel-y interviewers love this- they love to get you comfortable and then to judge you if you step too far out of bounds.

3. Being Late

As with point #1, being late is an amateur move. As someone being interviewed, you’re already being considered by the way they dress, how you greet the receptionist and of course, your punctuality. These things matter. Prepare by knowing exactly where the office is, ask after parking and give yourself a buffer of time. Seriously, it seems petty but I’ve seen it be a deal breaker.

4. Arguing with Feedback

During an interview, you may get (or ask for) feedback. This could be about your answers to questions, your resume, how you’d fit in with the culture, etc. A huge and often over-looked “quirk” is to argue with this feedback. Often if an interviewer mentions something to work on, or something of concern, it’s best to quickly address it without being defensive.

Sometimes as interviewers we don’t give feedback because we don’t want to get into an intense back and forth so we ignore it entirely. If you’re lucky enough to get real-time feedback, take it and move along.

(Need to see this point in action? Check out this clip from Girls. Nowww you get it!)

5. No References

The sign of a great employee is often the impression and relationships he or she has left behind. The reason references are so informative isn’t only because of the answers they give to questions but also the general vibe they give off about the person.

Interviewers look for references with whom you’ve made a good impression, who are eager to speak on your behalf. As I mentioned in my last article, give your references a heads up that you’re interviewing so they’re sure to return any calls quickly.

Bring your references with updated contact info to the interview. Don’t make the interviewer track your references down.

6. Being a Stalker

Follow up after an interivew, absolutely. In fact, ask the interviewer how you can best follow up.

Here’s what I suggest: Write a note or email thanking them for their time after the interview. Connect on LinkedIn. Wait one week and follow up again- express your interest in the job, ask if they’ve had trouble getting in touch with your references and if you can assist them in that. Ask where they are in the process and when you can expect to hear back.

If you hear nothing, you can reach out one more time a week later. If the interviewer doesn’t have the manners to at least let you down easy, don’t lose it. Just let it be and move on.

Often the interview process can take weeks, sometimes months. It’s ok to reach out the first couple of weeks (no more than once a week) and from then on once a month.

While this job is a priority to you, you never know what someone else has on their plate.

Other basic don’ts…as a friendly reminder!

Don’t bad mouth your boss.

Don’t get too personal.

Don’t eat or chew gum.

Don’t leave your phone on (or take a call/check it!).

Don’t forget to look your best…you’d be surprised at how many hiring managers answered “bad presentation/personal hygiene” as a pet peeve.

We’ll all interview at some point. Keep this in your file for that time. And remember, to be true to yourself.

What have I forgotten? Let me know in the comment below! Or if you have a great (or terrible) interview story, leave it in the comments!

If you like this article, share it with your friends, like or tweet it!


Want some personalized feedback on your interview style? Or feeling stuck at work and need some guidance on what to do next? Click this link to set up a FREE consultation!


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  • Stacey February 24, 2015, 7:48 pm

    I personally have sat in on very few interviews as an individual who is there to provide feedback and help support the decision making process; however, nothing is more frustrating to me than having someone be so scripted, so “textbook”, or so inauthentic…I would rather an individual be him or herself and admit to not knowing everything, than having someone appear as a know-it-all! Great tips as always!!

    • Anne Omland February 25, 2015, 1:41 pm

      Thanks so much Stacey! And, I totally agree!

  • Lacy February 24, 2015, 8:11 pm

    I once interviewed for a job writing Craigslist ads for a used car dealer after I had been laid off from a journalism job. The guy went through the entire interview, then passed me a copy of my resume he had “edited.” It was covered in red pen! He asked me to revise my resume and return it to him if I wanted to pursue the job further. I was so embarrassed! But then I started looking at his marks, and I didn’t feel like any of his edits, save one, were actual mistakes on my part — they were style choices. I thanked him and got out of there as fast as possible! Haha!

    • Anne Omland February 27, 2015, 1:57 pm

      Oh no! That’s ridiculous(…of him, obvs)! You make a great point- it’s good to know what MOST interviewers hate but some are just crazy and there’s not much you can do about it but read the signs and run! Thanks Lacy!

  • Lily February 24, 2015, 8:53 pm

    I’ve worked at places where interviewees turn into semi-stalkers, sometimes even showing up at the workplace to try to talk with the boss again. Following up via email/phone is great, but showing up unexpectedly is unprofessional and shows a lack of common courtesy.

    • Anne Omland February 25, 2015, 1:42 pm

      Great point. I think the advice is always given to follow up and to be persistent but it can sometimes have the opposite effect. Thanks Lily!

  • april February 25, 2015, 5:09 pm

    what fabulously detailed information, anne! it’s been a very long time since i’ve had an interview, and the thought of doing so again struck a bit of fear in me (ha ha). yet i felt myself calming as i read through your valuable advice. thank you!

  • Brenda February 26, 2015, 2:41 am

    I’ve interviewed many candidates, in my former career, that do exactly what you describe as bad behavior. They don’t ask me any questions about the company, they come to the interview late ,or better yet, complain about their boss. Great advice here Anne.

    • Anne Omland February 26, 2015, 4:01 pm

      So you’ve seen it too! I think we forget how our behavior can hold so much weight, even over our experience. Thanks Brenda!

  • Shelley ugyan February 27, 2015, 6:38 am

    yes! Great tips here! I totally agree…its a fine line between taking action and being appropriate. Always putting professionalism first is the key=- thanks for this!

    • Anne Omland February 27, 2015, 1:55 pm

      Thanks Shelley! Glad it was helpful!

  • Jul's Arthur February 28, 2015, 4:48 am

    Brilliant post, with really practical and inside tips. Even though I am my own boss, I am filing this to share with friends and those I feel can benefit from such sound advice. It’s really helpful to hear from someone who has done the interviewing. One thing about your post that I personally feel is so important, is the followup thank you. It shows personal care, manners, proper engagement and keep you top of mind. I really enjoy your writing style, easy to read, organized and engaging. I’ll bet you are a great interviewer.

    • Anne Omland March 2, 2015, 3:00 pm

      Thank you so so much Juls! The follow up is overlooked these days because it’s easy to just shoot off an email. And sometimes that’s ok. But in some situations it makes more of an impact to write a note (and you stand out for it).

  • Karen Yankovich March 1, 2015, 12:34 am

    These are GREAT tips! I’m often on the other side of the interview, and it’s crazy how these simple things get overlooked. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Anne Omland March 2, 2015, 2:59 pm

      Thanks Karen!

  • Teri March 4, 2015, 3:38 pm

    Great Tips.. I think my favorite one is the follow up. Don’t be afraid to follow up after the interview. I’m now an entrepreneur but my last interview, the person didn’t even have the decency to let me know either way, even with a few follow ups which at that point I decided that I didn’t want to work under a person with those types of (un) values anyway. Thanks for these great tips!

    • Anne Omland March 5, 2015, 3:00 pm

      Thanks Teri! I totally agree- interviewers can sometimes forget there’s a person at the other end of that interview and just how they follow up (if they do!) can help YOU make a decision.

  • Allison Carr March 8, 2015, 12:53 am

    Super helpful! I have an interview later this week, this came at the perfect time.

    • Anne Omland March 9, 2015, 1:55 pm

      Oh good! I hope it helps you. And good luck, Allison!

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