When I wrote my latest book I asked employers this question: Why didn’t you hire the last 10 people you interviewed? My book tells all. This blog shares more.
Posted on 08/05/14
"His socks didn't match. One was blue and one was green. I know that sounds ridiculously picky on my part. But it's not as if one was navy and dark green and he just couldn't tell the difference. One was a light blue and the other was deep turquoise. They were very, very different. I can't believe he didn't do this on purpose. Was he trying to make a statement? Or trying to show how unique he is? I don't know. But how can I hire someone who would be dealing with hundreds of details in a business that's very visually-oriented who can't wear the same color sock?"
---Owner of small business
Posted on 07/28/14
"During our conversation in the interview, when this guy would answer a question, he'd point and start off his sentences with, 'You need to understand.' As the interview went on, I noticed he did this more and more, which made him seem angry and defensive. It really turned me off and I was worried he'd be difficult to work with."
---Manager at small firm
Posted on 07/21/14
"The woman sitting across from me couldn't remember what job she was interviewing for. She said she had applied for so many, it just slipped her mind."
---Hiring manager at medium-sized firm who was looking for a "smart, quality-minded assistant with a decent memory"
Posted on 07/14/14
"The last two people I interviewed were more interested in whether they could have a flexible schedule than the job itself. One guy brought it up in the first 10 minutes of our interview. A woman said right off the bat, 'I'm not interested in your job if it doesn't include a flex schedule.' Guess what? I'm not interested in you if that's all you care about. I'll work with you to figure out a schedule that works for you, me and our customers. But not with an attitude like that."
---Owner of small business
Posted on 07/07/14
"The reason I didn't hire the last guy was simple: he was foolish and clueless. When I asked him why he was interested in working for our company he said, 'So I can get out of my parents' house. They won't let me smoke or let girls stay over.' Thinking he might be kidding and had more to offer, I followed up with, 'That's it?' His reply: 'Yep.' When I ended the interview a few minutes later and he asked, 'Is that it?', I said, 'Yep.'"
Posted on 06/30/14
"When I mentioned to the candidate that the job involved travel to our offices--which was clearly stated in our initial phone conversation--she jumped in and began rattling off a list of places she wasn't willing to travel to. The travel would involve most of those places she disliked. These are cities where she would be training our staff. It's where our offices are! Why was she even talking to us if she wasn't willing to do the job? As you can imagine, that was the end of that."
---Manager at large company
Posted on 06/23/14
"The person I was interviewing was very bold and assertive, which was fine. But when he asked me how old I was and my religion, I was taken aback. What went through my head was, 'Is he mad because other interviewers have asked such questions?'--which are of course not appropriate. I wondered: 'Did he only want to work for someone of a certain religion? Did he want to make sure I wasn't an old fogie?' This really threw me and I ended up not going any further with the interview process."
---Manager at large company
Posted on 06/16/14
"I had a decent interview with this man for a job that entails building relationships, lots of follow up and finding creative ways to connect with our customers. The person in this job needs to be an exemplary communicator. A few days after the interview with this man, he sends me one of those generic LinkedIn messages saying, 'I'd like to add you to my network.' Now, here is a job, where strategic communications is the name of the game. And that's as good as he can do? We had just spent several hours talking and he missed a huge opportunity to build on that. To me, it said he was lazy, not very creative and he showed me that he's not a strategic communicator. I hate getting those generic messages anyway from people I don't know. But from someone who wants to work with me and show me he's got what I'm looking for, this guy totally missed the boat. Being strategic about social media communications is a key part of this job. He sure wasn't."
Posted on 06/09/14
"I am looking for someone who can be a leader eventually in our company. The position is clearly described as that and I am willing to train the right person extensively. When I asked this young man about his plans for the future, how he saw himself developing in this field which is retail, he said he wanted to be a chiropractor in about five years. The interview was a very short one."
---Owner of retail business
Posted on 06/02/14
"He left his Coke can sitting in the lobby while he was waiting for our interview. Yes, that was it. Sound picky? Well, to me it told me he was not very thoughtful to others around him because he left his trash for someone else to clean up. It showed he didn't pay attention to details, also. His leftover Coke can just sat there shouting out: 'I am insensitive. I am a slob. I don't clean up after myself. I don't pay attention.' It really irked me. And he didn't follow up with a thank you note either, confirming my impression that he doesn't pay attention to the small things that make a difference."
---Manager at graphics company
Posted on 05/26/14
"This young lady who wanted to be a stylist at my salon showed up well dressed with interview appropriate blouse, skirt and heels. The one thing that did strike me odd was that her blouse was unbuttoned a little lower than what I consider normal. I let it go. Maybe she was in a hurry, is what crossed my mind. After positioning herself on my sofa I began the interview. We talked for 10 minutes about the various salon jobs she had and about my expectations in the job she was interviewing for. Everything was going well and she seemed comfortable. A little TOO comfortable. During those 10 minutes she managed to show more and more leg to the point where I finally said, 'You might not want to do that during an interview.' She quickly moved the skirt back where it belonged, we talked for maybe five minutes longer before she left. I never followed up with her."
---Kevin Swayne, owner of Swayne on Main
Posted on 05/19/14
"I talked with this man on the phone and was about to invite him in to interview. I liked him, but then he let it slip that he got to me by lying to my administrative assistant. He told her we knew each other from another company. If he pulled that on me, he'd do the same to my customers. We build those relationships on trust. I wouldn't be able to trust this guy."
---Small business owner
Posted on 05/12/14
"When I asked her if she had any questions about the company she responded with, 'How do you treat your employees?' This took me a bit by surprise. What about the service we provide? What about the plans we have for growth? She had no interest in those. I would have been intrigued with her if she had ask: 'How do employees fit into the overall growth of the company?' Or 'What's your leadership philosophy?' We could have had a rich conversation that would give her insight into how we treat people who work here. But I didn't care much for how she treated us."
---Manager at fast-growing medium-sized firm
Posted on 05/05/14
"If I hear one more person tell me they are a people person, I think I will scream! When the latest job hunter told me that, I asked her what she meant, she said something like, 'I'm a people person. That's it. That's all. I'm just that.' I'm sick of candidates who just repeat what they think I want to hear. I'm not an idiot. I've got a business that I care deeply about and I look carefully for people who will care as much as I do. I'm really looking to understand who you are. You need to put some thought into that. Otherwise, you're not going to get hired by people like me."
---Small business owner
Posted on 04/28/14
"I was so excited that this person actually followed up and wrote a thank you note after our interview. That is so rare! If only it hadn't been full of typos and bad grammar. The word 'you' was 'yous.' 'Hospital' was 'hospitql.' 'Particular' was 'paticular.' Doesn't anybody proofread anymore? This is a job that needs attention to detail. This showed me that he didn't have it."
---Hiring manager for large company
Posted on 04/21/14
"Meaningless responses to everything. That's all I got from the last couple candidates. For example, I shared with the last candidate what he would encounter when dealing with customers and vendors, to which he says, 'No problem.' What's that supposed to mean? I want to know: have you ever handled those issues? How? Where? What happened? 'No problem' tells me nothing. With another candidate I'm explaining the goals we have for the next six months and she says, 'Awesome.' What does that tell me? Nothing. I want to hear what and how you think. If 'awesome' is the best you can do, well, I'm not impressed. I will conclude, you don't think much at all."
---Manager at small, fast-growing company that looks for people who think
Posted on 04/14/14
"I want to hire an older worker. I think they offer a lot in so many areas. But the last two interviews I had with older workers, didn't go well. One kept talking about how he wasn't up on the technology. And I'm wondering, 'Well, why not?' The other kept focusing on the fact that she was an older worker and how that should not cloud my view of her. I wanted her to focus on what matters which is the value she did bring to the table. Neither of them ever really got to that. It was more about trying to convince me not to discriminate against them. They both talked me out of wanting to hire them!"
---Small business owner
Posted on 04/07/14
"When I asked the young man why he was interested in our company he said--and I quote--'I heard you were hiring.' I tried to help him out and asked why he thought he would be qualified for the position. He said, 'I can do anything.' After that, the interview was over."
---Manager of sales
Posted on 03/31/14
"After the first interview with this woman, mostly out of curiosity, I looked online to see what else I could find out about her. She had seemed polite and professional enough in our meeting. But I got the feeling there was something not right. She seemed to be simmering inside about something. She seemed angry. Online I found some comments she had made about her former employer and what a horrible company they were. Maybe they are. I just know it bothered me that she would post that online for the whole world to see. She seemed vindictive. It showed poor judgment. It colored my view of her."
Posted on 03/24/14
"He clearly did not know when to stop talking. It was interesting to hear how he got into the healthcare field. But he should have stopped at 'I saw a lot of health issues in my family when I was growing up.' He went on to tell about every one of his own personal health issues including the meds he had to be on. This was just too much personal information and indicated to me that he didn't understand appropriate boundaries. This is a huge red flag."
---Manager at a medium-sized firm
Posted on 03/17/14
"I liked this young woman but all I can say is that I couldn't risk hiring her and having her around clients. Her language skills were awful. She'd be talking and all of the sudden insert a made-up word. She'd say she was 'flustrated." Or 'president' instead of 'precedent' and 'orientated' instead of 'oriented.' It wasn't just a fluke. It was a pattern. And it demonstrated her lack of good language skills. It made her look silly. And she would make my business look bad. Everyone who works here needs to conduct themselves like smart professionals."
---President of professional services firm
Posted on 03/10/14
"I asked the man I was interviewing about his salary expectation, to which he responded that he'd think about it and let me know. He emailed me back in a few days with a list of conditions. The conditions included the job title he wanted, the exact number of hours he'd work per week and other ridiculous mandates including where his office would be located in our company. I had made a simple request and didn't even get an answer to that question. He demonstrated what a pain in the you-know-what he'd be."
---Small business owner
Posted on 03/03/14
"I was interviewing someone who came highly recommended for this incredible opportunity, But when the person started telling me how I should run my company, I got an uncomfortable feeling. He was older than me and I think he figured I didn't know what I was doing, since I'm about 20 years younger. I want input, but he seemed to have a chip on his shoulder about not being appreciated and wanted to make sure he was heard. He just didn't seem like he'd fit in with our company that is built on a more collaborative culture."
---Sid, a "younger" owner of a small company
Posted on 02/24/14
(The manager of this dance studio told this story to their client who passed it on to me):
"They are looking for a new front desk/receptionist/office manager. In interviews over the last two weeks one candidate was asked what her weakness was. Her response was ‘customer service’. A second candidate, when asked why she applied for the job replied, ‘I do not remember applying. Maybe my mother did so on my behalf.’ The third candidate, when asked, 'What do you know about our business?' responded with ‘You provide some sort of martial arts training.’ She was attempting to see if the candidate had done any research prior to the interview – obviously not. Surprisingly, all three interviews quickly ended. Needless to say, the manager is pulling her hair out trying to fill this position."
Posted on 02/17/14
"She had this 'woe is me' attitude that turned me off. She said things like, 'There just aren't any jobs out there' and 'I have been looking for over six months and I can't get anywhere.' She seemed like her sad attitude would rub off at work. Here she was talking with me about an actual opening and she was focused on the wrong things. Where is that optimistic, can't-wait-to-help-you-solve-your problems attitude?"
---Executive at medium-sized company
Posted on 02/10/14
"What about sick days?" When I asked the candidate what questions he had about our company and the job, that's what he said. You've got to be kidding! I thought. That's the only thing you're curious about? What about the projects you'll work on? Our clients? The people you'll work with? Company culture? What about the ways you can grow with us? Up until that point, things were going well. After that, I was done talking to this guy."
---Manager at large firm
Posted on 02/03/14
"Understanding and applying technology is an important part of the job I was interviewing this person for. So when I probed to find out her expertise and interest in this area, she said something like: 'I think technology is important.' OK, I thought, that didn't tell me much. So, I asked her to tell me more about why she thinks it's important and especially in this role. 'It just is. Everybody needs technology today to do their job.' She had no idea of the 'why' behind it. I wanted to hear how she understood the link between technology and the objective of this position. How could someone like that be excited about what we're doing? She wasn't, that was clear. She didn't bother to even find out. And that was the end of her and her future at our company."
---L. M., business owner
Posted on 01/27/14
"I am reviewing some applicants for a position. In this person's correspondence, in the same sentence he is describing how strong he is in 'communication,' he makes a serious grammatical error on the word communication! He wrote: '….I have three crucial skills necessary for the position. These skills are a strong ability to communication effectively,…' One from another applicant, which I found amusing: 'I am an great typist,…' I wish these were rarities but actually only one application per many is written without typos, grammatical errors, etc. It is really incredible."
---Eric Zuckerman, president of Pac Team Group
Posted on 01/20/14
"It came down to how she spoke. Every other sentence was "I'm a people person" or "I think outside the box" or some other over-used phrase that means nothing and makes me want to smack the person across the head. I guess she thinks it is what I want to hear. But I want a real person who can tell me about themselves and how they think. In this case, I have no idea who she really is. She didn't get a second interview."
---L. W., human resource manager
Posted on 01/13/14
"After the first interview with this person we did some more checking up on him regarding things he said that didn't ring true. We discovered he exaggerated the number of years he worked at one company and claimed to have a degree he hadn't earned. Yes, we required a degree for this job. And maybe we would make an exception for the right person. But lying is unforgivable."
---M. S., owner of medium-size firm
Posted on 01/06/14
"I wanted to like this guy. He had many of the skills we needed. The role involved grooming him to move up into our firm. But when I asked him where he saw himself headed beyond this position in our company, he said, he wanted to be a lawyer. What? I thought to myself. Then why are you here? Why are you wasting my time? And why would I teach you this business and groom you for an executive role? Shortly after that the interview was over."
---CEO of small business
Posted on 12/30/13
"I liked her over the phone. So we invited her in for an interview. She was a nervous wreck. She was so stiff, I felt like I was talking to a robot. Any time she responded to a question, she was so careful with her words, she didn't seem like a real person but instead, someone who was trying too hard to say the perfect thing. I got no sense of who the real person was, which is one of the main objectives of this first interview. She was so determined to impress us it backfired. I just wanted to converse and get to know her. She didn't have the presence and confidence we'd need for someone in this job."
---E. P., manager at non-profit organization
Posted on 12/23/13
"I thought we had a pretty good interview. He was definitely in the running. I should mention that this was for a job that required follow up and relationship building. I was still in the process of talking to other folks, but I never heard a word back from him after the interview. One week went by. Two weeks, then three. A month later, he calls to ask where things are. By then I figured he wasn't interested since I didn't get a thank you note--not even a bad one. Just silence. In our own interactions, he did not demonstrate the basic traits he'd need to do this job well. Why would I even consider hiring him?"
Posted on 12/16/13
"All I did was ask him why he left his last job so soon--after four months. He said something canned like, 'It wasn't a good fit.' I asked more about what he meant and he just flew off the handle saying it wasn't his fault and the company was terrible and the manager was nuts and everyone was against him. He became so emotional, sirens went off inside me. It can help to understand if a person is a good fit with your company to learn more. But in this case, his reaction told me he was not a good fit. I politely ended the interview after a few more questions."
---L. J., manager
Posted on 12/09/13
"She had recently graduated and came in for an interview at our firm. I liked her. That is until she asked how much time she'd get off around the holiday season. I told her the firm is closed Christmas and the day after and on New Year's day. The fact that she even asked this in her first interview did not score her any points. But her reaction did her in. She was shocked and said, 'But we got an entire month off when I was in school.' Yeah, so? I wanted to say. I also wanted to remind her that she's in the real world now where business doesn't stop for your convenience. I didn't say it, but I did end the interview. She's clearly not the kind of person we look for."
---J. P., executive at small firm
Posted on 12/02/13
"He was clueless about our company and what he'd like to do in his role. When I asked this young man who had only been out of school about 8 months what he'd like to do if he worked for us, he said, 'I'd like to learn.' Bad answer. Sorry, but I'm not your teacher. If you want to get hired by me you better have at least some insight into what we do and why I'd pay you to learn and then take on more responsibility. Do your homework before you waste everyone's time."
---Alan P., owner of medium-size company
Posted on 11/25/13
"I was interviewing a young lawyer for a position as an associate in a 200-lawyer firm. He was a bit unusual in appearance with a number of body piercings and an odd bleach pattern in his close cropped hair and eyebrows, so I was getting some caution signals right at the outset. I noticed in looking at his resume that he had attended an Ohio law school and while at that school had served as the president of the Irish-American Law Society. I remarked in our interview that I hadn’t known that school to be noteworthy for any special interest in Ireland or its peoples and asked him what that was about. His response, simply: 'Keg party!' at which point the interview was over."
Posted on 11/18/13
"One of the first things this young woman brought up in our interview was that she would not hear of working weekends or after 5. She said she had to get home to deal with family issues every day and that was that. No if, ands or buts. She didn't even ask about the job and what I was looking for. I was hoping she would be 'the one.' Her resume looked good and I thought she had the right experience. I would have been open to being flexible with her schedule. But her rigid attitude, showing no interest in the job and the fact that she brought this up in the first 10 minutes of the interview told me that she had bad judgment. That's what did her in and helped me make up my mind that she was not someone I wanted to work for me."
---Small business owner
Posted on 11/11/13
"He was ten minutes late. It was that simple. He had no explanation. No nothing. He didn't even seem to realize what a faux pas that was. I can't have someone so clueless in my business which is based on building trusting relationships with people who do what they say they're going to do. When you make a commitment to be somewhere at a certain time, you do what you say you're going to do. It's not that hard. It's really quite simple."
---Manager at consulting firm
Posted on 11/04/13
"The young woman I was interviewing in describing herself said, 'So I'm like, a, well, a communicator. Um, like a marketer. I know, like, social media and those kinds of things. And I'm like, the person you'd go to to like, figure out how to get your message out.' I am not exaggerating. I counted 11 'likes' in less than 30 seconds. That interview lasted about 15 minutes. I was ready to tear my hair out."
---Director of marketing for small company
Posted on 10/28/13
"When I was interviewing someone for a senior manager role to lead over 800 people, I talked about my own leadership style and expectations. I ask him to describe similarities and differences in his style. He gave patronizing answers only focusing on our similarities and often complimenting me on my style. I wanted to hear him explain how he got to his current philosophy. I tried a different approach to get a candid response that might reflect his courage to admit mistakes and lessons learned. So I asked: 'What stands out as leadership failures you experienced?' Instead, he discussed how he had trusted the wrong subordinates too much. 'Did that experience change your approach?' I asked. He left me flat again, claiming he altered his selection process of subordinates. This guy lacked the professional maturity to prove he knew how to be accountable, would learn from experience and could think on his feet."
---Doug Mayblum, president of leadership Explorations and former financial services executive
Posted on 10/21/13
"He kept looking at his phone. I couldn't believe it. In the middle of our interview! I thought, if this is how you treat me here--rudely and with the inability to focus on our conversation and not even having the awareness of how wrong it is to act like that--there's no way I'd hire you. I could only think of how rude he'd be to customers and co-workers."
---Manager of sales in medium-sized company
Posted on 10/14/13
"I was meeting with a prospective senior manager who had just interviewed with others on our staff. I was immediately turned off when I asked him to summarize these previous conversations and he discussed 'how nice his interviewers were' or 'how impressed he was by them.' When I pressed for specifics about what he learned, he rambled on about how he answered their questions. I was trying to see how he synthesized and interpreted those discussions. It was clear he treated them as a test, not as a learning opportunity."
---Doug Mayblum, president of Leadership Explorations and former financial services executive
Posted on 10/07/13
"He wanted to know if he could bring his mother to the interview. He not only didn't get hired, he didn't even get as far as an interview with me."
---Manager at mid-size company
Posted on 09/30/13
"Everything was everyone else's fault when this guy talked about why he had so many jobs and why he left or he got fired. It's a red flag anyway to see a lot of jobs with short stints on someone's resume. So I always ask why the person left. Another guy said he had left his various jobs because they weren't a good fit. But at least he talked about what he had learned."
---Len, owner of Web design firm
Posted on 09/23/13
"When she started talking, I thought to myself 'there's no way I could work with this person.' There was something about the way she spoke…her grammar…her sentences that all ended in question marks...all of that."
---Terry, manager at large company
Posted on 09/16/13
"Her portfolio had dated projects and newspaper clippings. It made me question her judgment for even showing such old work. I wondered whether she was up-to-date on the techniques and tools of our trade. And if she did have more current work, I wondered if she just didn't like what she had done."
---Gordon, manager at medium size firm
Posted on 09/09/13
"The last person I had thought about hiring but didn't was because they did not follow up on the interview with the writing samples and other materials that I had requested. Poor follow-through is an immediate killer for me."
---Dan, Ohio business owner
Posted on 08/30/13
"He wore blue, iridescent shoes. That's why I didn't hire him. I thought, 'If this is how he comes to an interview, this guy must be crazy. Or something close to it. They hurt my eyes. Who wears blue shoes that practically sparkle to a job interview? End of interview."
--Owner of small business in the Midwest
Posted on 08/23/13
“She seems nice and enthusiastic. But then she tells me the reason she’s interested in the job is because she wants to move here. And because she needs ‘a life transformation.’ And because ‘it would be a great place to start a career.’ She gave me zilch reasons for why I would train her, pay her and trust her. Help you move? I don’t think so. Get a start in your career? What about my company and how you’re going to help me increase my business? What skills do you have to do that? What do you know about my business that interests you and would make you excited to come to work every day? Yes, those are some of the reasons I might hire you."
--Owner of small business on East coast