Top Recruiters Reveal Their 7 Biggest Job Interview Pet Peeves


Don't skim this one.

Business colleagues working in a cafe.

This post originally appeared on Girlboss.

Here’s the problem with the job-interview faux pas: You generally don’t realise you’re making one until way after the fact. Unless you completely blow it (you know, by face-planting on your way out or accidentally insulting the interviewer’s work on a recent project), each time you don’t hear back about a job, you’re left guessing what you did wrong.

Enough’s enough. I work daily with recruiters from all sorts of big-name companies, so I’ve been able to pick their brains about interview behaviour that makes them frustrated. Because when you know what not to do, you’re one step closer to getting it right. Right?

1. Not following simple etiquette
Let’s start with me, shall we? Before launching Career Contessa, I was a recruiter at Hulu. During those years (and even now when I interview people to add to our team here), I was shocked by how many people failed to send a thank-you email. These days, if someone doesn’t send me a thank you within 24 hours, they’re on my list – and not in a good way. It takes five minutes. And if your competition doesn’t do it, and you do? You’ve just jumped ahead in line.

2. Being in the absolutely wrong place at the right time
“If you’re taking a phone interview, don’t be in a loud atmosphere that doesn’t allow for me to hear you or for you to hear me,”  says Josilin Torrano, recruiting lead at Facebook. “Take the time to find a quiet place to hold an interview. I’ve called candidates and they’ve been in their cars, company supply closets, even alleyways behind their current job.”

3. Showing up too early
“Mine would have to be when candidates show up way too early,” says Chloé Polanco, senior recruiter for Hot Topic. “I definitely think you should err on the side of caution and plan for the worst case scenario in terms of traffic, but wait in your car or at a nearby cafe until 10 to 15 minutes prior to your interview time before checking in with the front desk. Use the extra time to collect your thoughts. Showing up earlier makes me feel bad that you’re sitting in the lobby with nothing to do. It can also be uncomfortable for the receptionist.”

4. Trying for a back entrance
“When a candidate is in contact with a recruiter and they try to contact someone else within the organisation in hopes of getting a different answer, it isn’t a good look. This type of over-eagerness can come across as desperate and imply that you aren’t taking the recruiter seriously,” says Linda Schubert, senior recruiter at Glassdoor. “A recruiter’s job is to vet candidates. If they choose not to move you forward for a role, there’s a reason for it. Trying to contact someone else can lead them to not consider you in the future for other opportunities.”

5. Talking money too soon
“My biggest pet peeve is when candidates immediately ask, ‘What is the salary range for this role?’” says Cassie Chao, a technical recruiter at Uber. “While I understand that compensation is an important factor into a candidate’s career decision, as a recruiter, we care if the person is interested in the role and if their skills and passion align with the opportunity. Especially at a private company/startup, where equity is valued higher than cash. When a candidate is driven by money, it’s more difficult to get a sense of their interest in the company and role.”

6. Showing up under- or over-prepared
“I’ve spoken to people who haven’t read the job description or aren’t up to date on the team/company/mission statement. Do your due diligence to research the role you’re interviewing for,” says Facebook recruiter Josilin.

But she also can’t stand when interviewee’s go too far: “I hate when candidates have memorised the answers they want to give and aren’t able to break from their script. This comes off very robotic and superficial. And don’t look up answers while on the call! Recruiters I work with often complain about engineering candidates Googling answers to the technical questions in the interview. That’s cheating!”

7. Failing to read the (not so) small print
“Follow basic instructions,” says Chloe of Hot Topic. “Like asking for the hiring manager when they arrive instead of me. Not doing what you’re asked can totally throw off the flow of things and impact the carefully orchestrated interview experience.”

We’ve all made at least one of these before (me included). But you live and you learn, right? And then you do better on the next one.

Lauren McGoodwin is the CEO and founder of Career Contessa.

We would love to hear your thoughts