10 Business Leaders Share Their Biggest Interview Pet Peeves

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Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers!

Today’s Question: What’s your biggest interview pet peeve, and why might this behavior jeopardize someone’s chance of getting hired?

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization composed of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs.

1. Not Knowing Anything About the Company

Spending five minutes on the hiring company’s website or reading its blog goes a very long way. I ask every candidate one question that tells me what I need to know: Based on what you know about Fortress, what excites you the most about working here? — Joel Mathew, Fortress Consulting 

2. Emphasizing Competing Offers

Something really off-putting in the interview process is when interviewees emphasize their competing offers. Interviewers know job applicants aren’t searching in a vacuum. They assume you are looking at other companies, just as you assume they are looking at other candidates. Overselling your competing offers tells the interviewer you aren’t fully engaged with or interested in the company. — Jordan Conrad, Writing Explained Blog Starter 

3. Being on the Phone During the Interview

If someone checks their phone during the middle of an interview, that is my biggest pet peeve. It shows a lack of interest in the position and a lack of respect for our conversation. If someone checks their phone, I automatically exclude them from the hiring process. — Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC 

4. Being Late Without Notice

Things happen, so it’s understandable when people run late. However, it’s crucial to communicate and let the interviewer know you’ll be running late. It’s very disrespectful to be late and not at least notify someone you’re running behind. It’s just better to have respect for others’ time. — John Rampton, Calendar 

5. Not Creating a Disturbance-Free Environment

Today, interviews are happening virtually and not in person. Candidates need to take care to present themselves well via camera. One major pet peeve of mine is candidates who do not take any trouble to create a disturbance-free environment for the interview. Plan for your interview and move to a quiet place with good internet to avoid leaving a bad impression. — Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner 

6. Not Getting to the Point

Not getting to the point of the question and talking for too long can jeopardize an interview. When someone asks you a question, you have maybe 30 seconds to a minute where they are fully engaged, so make that count. Allow them to ask follow-up questions so it is more of a conversation. — Daniel Robbins, IBH Media 

7. Speaking Poorly of a Previous Company

I hate when interviewees speak poorly of their previous company or previous manager. While it’s sometimes necessary to directly address negative experiences, it’s vital that the interviewee treat those experiences as opportunities to learn. Otherwise, this sort of trash talk raises red flags about the interviewee’s professional conduct, as well as their ability to mesh in a team environment. — Brian Greenberg, True Blue Life Insurance 

8. Not Admitting Any Weaknesses

No one is perfect, and by asking what your weaknesses are, we’re simply trying to see where you might need assistance or training should you be hired. Be honest about where you lack. You don’t need to talk yourself down, but speak openly about your experiences for the best results. — Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms 

9. Sounding Too Rehearsed

It’s important to do a lot of research and anticipate possible questions when preparing for an interview. However, I’ve had experiences where candidates take it too far and every answer has been clearly rehearsed, which makes them sound like a robot. Don’t be afraid to say something spontaneous during the interview, and don’t try to aggressively steer the conversation toward prepared topics. — Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy 

10. Not Having Any Questions at the End of the Interview

I always open the door for a candidate to ask me questions about the role, team, or company. If they say they have no questions, it’s a red flag for me. Either they don’t care about the position or don’t have the capacity to research and make informed decisions. — Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A. 

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