Hiring managers share simple ways to make a terrible impression in a job interview.
Different jobs require different qualities in an employee–so what a hiring manager is looking for will vary from interview to interview. But there are some behaviors that decision-makers agree are especially annoying. We asked several hiring managers for their interviewee pet peeves–and for their take on what a job applicant can do to get his or her resume tossed into the recycling bin.
If you’re looking for a job, be warned.
Send a follow-up “thx 4 mtg” text message.
Kristin Terdik, inside sales support director of Technekes in Charlotte, N.C., laments the lost art of professional thank-you notes that feature actual words on real paper: “Candidates directly out of school think they can send you a text message or an invitation to a social networking site, and that counts as a thank-you note,” she says. “It doesn’t count, but so many entry-level people are doing it now I’m forced to cut them some slack.”
Peggy Rosenblatt, senior vice president for AKRF, Inc., an environmental planning and engineering consulting firm, is less forgiving. “If I don’t get a well-written thank-you note as a follow up, they’re out.”
Spam your resume.
Maria McGuinness, a hiring manager for a small manufacturer in central New York, says that too many applicants repeatedly apply for the same position and cite different websites where the job was posted. Other managers are annoyed when candidates apply for every position in the company–both behaviors cause unnecessary work for hiring managers. “While I realize the job market is tight and people are desperate, spamming your resume is a very bad idea,” McGuinness says.
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Ask, “What does your company do?”
“If candidates don’t have the curiosity or interest to do their homework on our website, then I am not interested in them,” says Rosenblatt.
Bring the family.
Erin Duddy, a recruiter at a small staffing firm in Raleigh, has been unpleasantly surprised when a candidate brings a baby or a child to an interview. “If you absolutely must bring children to the company, at least clear it ahead of time,” she recommends.
A hiring manager at a Florida hospital adds that bringing a spouse or parent to the interview–or letting a loved one negotiate your salary and benefits for you–is one way to ensure you’ll get no salary and benefits.
Use your cell phone in the meeting.
Hiring managers say that they’re seeing more candidates use their cell phones to send text messages or take personal calls during interviews–but that doesn’t make the behavior any more acceptable.
John M. O’Connor, president of Career Pro Inc., adds that even using electronics in the waiting room can reflect negatively. “Executive assistants often tell the boss everything, and if they see you constantly using your PDA, it may give the impression that you’re unfocused or easily distracted.”
Don’t smile. Or laugh too much. Or cry.
O’Connor says that a smile and a sense of humor are crucial in interviews, no matter what the job may be. “Hiring managers have told me, ‘this person is great on paper–but he’s so intense and humorless in person, I would never want to go to lunch with him,'” he says.
On the other hand, Frank Papa, operating partner at H.I.G. Capital in North Carolina, warns against undue giddiness. “When a candidate laughs all the time … it says they are trying too hard to be accepted and be liked.”
Then again, laughter may be better than tears. “I hate interviewing someone who is so nervous they cannot answer the questions and then break down and cry,” says Isabella Tagore, a recruiting consultant based in southern California.
Come with your own beverages.
Many hiring managers dislike it when people bring their own take-out cups of coffee to drink during an interview, according to career strategist Barbara Safani. It can come across as far too informal. And if you bring a child’s Hello Kitty lunch box containing utensils to brew your own tea, as one candidate did when meeting Terdik, you will be memorable–but not in a good way.