Since there has been a lot of discussion on interviews lately AND because I expect to be interviewing very soon, this question seems good.

What is your interviewing pet peeve? That one thing that a candidate does which sets you off and ensures the candidate won't get a job.

Mine is profanity. I recall interviewing a very good candidate one. If you consider a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 the best, this person was about a 7-8. Very solid and could have been pretty sure of getting the job. In one of the last questions, they slipped. The question required a discussion of something negative about a previous position and they said "For lack of a better description, it was just all f---ed up." They instantly went from the 7-8 down to a 3. What I heard was "well, I can't come up with an intelligent way to describe it, so I'll resort to vulgarities." Is this the way they expected to relate to a customer? In my opinion, there is never, never, never an excuse to curse.

Just sharing this - like turning off the cell phone, or having a clean desk, I guess the little things really do matter.


BradK's picture

My pet peeve? People who talk too much. I've always felt that the best answer is short and concise and the person who elaborates in excruciating detail will also maintain that practice after they are hired and will be even more aggravating in the office. I try to discern those who may be victim to nervousness from those that seem comfortable carrying on and on.

RB's picture

Mine would be when you ask a candidate if the have any questions for you (typically near the end of the interview), and the reply is "no."

Surely in the process of the interview, if it has gone even reasonably well, one could come up with at least a couple of intelligent questions.

I've never understood how anyone could answer this question with no (unless of course they have determined that this isn't the job for them.) ...Even so, I would come up with something if for no other reason, than to practice for the next opportunity.


wendii's picture
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I take no questions from the candidate as meaning I did a fabulous job within the interview of explaining the company, department, role, benefits, next steps and everything else they wanted to know.
Should I rethink that? :-)

Apart from candidates first reaction to my question being 'good question', as discussed on Mark's blog, my pet peeves, in no particular order,

*Candidates who don't turn up and don't call
*Candidates who say 'I read that question on the information you sent, I should have thought of an answer really' *Well DUH!*
* Candidates who havn't read the literature we send
*Candidates who come for interview, havn't read the job spec properly and think the job is based 150 miles from where it is and then take a week to tell me the location is a problem!!!
*Candidates who havn't prepared
*Candidates who don't bring the required documentation
*Candidates who havn't worked out how their experience is relevant and use the interview to work it out
*Candidates who don't look at me because I'm only HR, or a woman or just ugly (I don't know what goes on in their heads!)
*Candidates whose first statement is I travelled 100 miles to get here, who do I ask about expenses
*Candidates who make me feel guilty by being too early

Ok stopping now, before I really get going!


lou's picture

Preparation is my big item.

Bring me a copy of your resume. If I found you from a recruiter or a search engine I have a poorly formatted hard to read sheaf of papers, not a resume.

Read about us. Know what news items are likely affecting us and bring them up. I once asked a government consulting firm how pending legislation was going to affect one portion of their company. That started a great conversation about their business model.

And for goodness sake, dress and behave appropriately. Men seem to be particularly bad on this front, particularly college grads or IT staff.

Oh, and I always thought that the "Any questions" portion of an interview isn't a dealbreaker if they don't have any if we've had a lively conversation to that point. I always struggle for a final question in my own interviews as I ask questions throughout.

Mark's picture
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I've interviewed tens of thousands of people, and had less than 100 good interviews. People stink at interviewing. It's abominable. Worst systemic interpersonal/career management behavior there is.

If I did have to pick one, though, it's attitude. There are a hundred manifestations of this, from lateness to lack of preparation. But the one that kills me is low energy.

[b]I'll take 90% less ability for 10% more attitude every day of the week.[/b]

RB's picture


I take no questions from the candidate as meaning I did a fabulous job within the interview of explaining the company, department, role, benefits, next steps and everything else they wanted to know.
Should I rethink that? :-)

Hi Wendii,

Sorry it took so long to reply. Gone through a number of lengthy (but good!) interviews in the last couple of weeks...

I wouldn't say you need to rethink it (given that "peeves" tend to be personal anyway) In the end, it's up to your judgement. For me, when I've interviewed. I always have a list of questions I've prepared based on research, which many times do get answered during the course of the interview, though typically a few don't or at least don't get answered fully. I've always found though, that as I go through in interview (as the interviewee) I'm trying to demonstrate through these ending questions, that I have thought about the company's needs and how I fit them, or that I can think beyond what was asked.

Re: your peeves: Wow that's quite a list you have! Some of them are so out there, it's hard to believe someone would actually do/ask them!
It takes all kinds I guess!

Thanks for the interaction!


Mark's picture
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Pretty sure that Wendii was using her dry English wit. :wink:

Anybody that doesn't ask questions at the end of an interview, given the opportunity and some time, ought to be drawn and quartered by the folks who didn't get a chance to interview for that slot.


MikeK's picture

Amusing thread. :lol: I had an interview with one candidate once that put his feet up on a chair beside him (in the board room) and when asked why he wanted the job, he replied in all seriousness and even stated so, that he like our office building and was looking for a job where he could see out the window.

Needless to say, that was the end of the interview.

tplummer's picture

Mark, you would think I was horrible during an interview! Something I'll have to work on someday.

Anyway, my pet peeve is interviewees that give extremely short answers. I had a guy answer every question in about 15 seconds. No elaboration. No amplying comments. No personal touches. No description on how he did great things. No anything. Of course at the end of a very short interview when I asked if he had any questions...none! Horrible.


Mark's picture
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HA! I doubt it.


TimBryce's picture

My Pet Peeve is evasive answers. I cannot tolerate someone who dances
around an answer; it means he is hiding someone. I have no problem
with an occasional swear word (heck, I don't think we use "bullshit"
enough in the work place). As long as the person gets to the point
and doesn't evade my questions, I don't have a problem with it.

All the Best,
Tim Bryce