As end of year, thought I’d share some interviewing and recruiting “don’ts” based on actual interviews I conducted this year.  I had a number of open spots, so saw a lot of candidates. I’m amazed at some of the stupid things people do.   Many of these should be very obvious to MT listeners, but should add some levity to your holiday seasons.



-          Bow ties may be your thing, but they aren’t mine. 


-          Showing me your badge from your current employer will not impress me.


-          Tweeting about your interview during your interview is not a good idea.  It’s even worse if you’re not complementary.


-          You wore jeans.  I wore a suit.  Don’t call back a week later and tell my recruiter that you made a good impression.


-          You changed out of your suit on site before getting a cab to the airport.  The interview isn’t over until you leave the building and, quite frankly, I didn’t need to see you in shorts.


-          I asked you to give me a 30 second elevator pitch about yourself.    I’m ok if you got a little long, but if you’re still talking after 5 minutes, you’ve already lost my interest. 


-          I will not interrupt you and I will say “yes” to anything you request.  I’m more than happy to let you burry yourself.  If you’ve been rambling for 30 minutes and told you “no problem” when you asked for a 5 minute break to check your e-mail, it’s not because you are doing well.  It’s because I’ve stopped caring. 


-          Bringing work samples that are your current employer’s intellectual property is great, but not in the way you think.  I now know you have no ethics. 


-          Do not ask me, “How did I do?”  That is a horrible question and you are not closing me with it.  I am not going to commit in an interview and you should be self aware enough to know.  In fact, the only response you will get from me is “How do you think you did?”   Now you better be right.


-          Sometimes I challenge you to see how you react.  If I’ve asked you to tell me about a time when you developed a creative solution and then ask, “That seems pretty standard, what was creative about it?” your answer should not be, “You’re right, that wasn’t very creative.”


-          I understand that there is something about your current job that you don’t like otherwise you wouldn’t be interviewing.  That doesn’t mean I want you to tell me the gory details.  I expect your answer to “Why do you want to leave company X?”  to be tactful…. In fact, that is one of the reasons I ask the question.


-          Your first question to me shouldn’t be “So, what’s in this job for me?”   If you’re interested in benefits or career growth specifically ask.  This question is just plain selfish.


-          Every bit of interviewing advice says to ask questions.  If you tell me all your questions were answered by someone else and you have none for me, the hiring manager, that tells me that a) you don’t understand that I am going to be your boss and the most important person you’ve met and b) you may not pay attention to regular business conventions. 


-          Using the time between interviews to negotiate with another employer is not bright.  We can hear you, and no, you aren’t about to get an offer from us.


-          That thought leader in the industry you just called stupid, he was my mentor.  Whoops.


Any other interesting "lessons learned" out there?

pucciot's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

 I once had an interviewee ask :

" Once I'm done with all of my work for the day, can I go home early ? "



mmann's picture
Licensee Badge

As the candidate, the number you provide for the initial screening should not be a phone conferencing service unless it's unavoidable.  If it is unavoidable, do not activate the "Record" feature.

  Thanks for the chuckle!

manager252's picture

-   When asked to sit in a particular chair at the interview panel table, feel free to decline, plop your jacket and laptop case on that chair, and announce that that feels too formal and so you'll sit closer to one of the panel members. In fact, sit so close that one of the panel member feels uncomfortable when trying to take notes about your interview. We like someone with no concept of personal space or interview etiquette.

-  Immediately take charge of the interview before even sitting down by handing all panel members a listing of your references and an "updated" version of your resume that differs in style and content from the one that got you to the interview in the first place.

-  Answer the question of what excites you about this job you're interviewing for by stating that what you're really after is my position, and neglect to discuss aspects of the advertised position. I'm really looking for a go-getter that wants to kick me out of the way!

-  For a call-back discussion about the job offer, under dress even more than you did in the interview. It impresses us that you can feel comfortable wearing an untucked wrinkled flannel shirt and jeans for a professional position and that you'll know what is appropriate when you're asked to represent your employer. 

-  After being asked to describe how you communicate with your supervisor, announce that you're turning that question around and ask the hiring manager to describe his preferred communication style. Believe me, this ain't it!

- In your list of references, feel free to provide outdated phone numbers to force me to do research to find the correct number. Even better, surprise me by listing your own phone number instead of the reference's number so that when I call the reference I reach you instead. 

- In an email to me after the interview explain that you didn't succeed in identifying aspects of engineered drawings because it was a high pressure situation while the panel members were waiting for your answer. I'm glad you reminded me that I should ask you to do easy tasks you could ace during the interview!