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10 Ways to Drive a Recruiter Mad During a Job Interview

Many people don’t really like HR specialists and assume they’re mean because they ask so many tricky questions. But sometimes, applicants literally drive recruiters nuts, making their chances of getting the job minimal.

At Bright Side, we think that both parties should express their views, so we decided to find out what kinds of applicants irritate recruiters the most. As a bonus, we’ll prove that employers can also be understanding and give an applicant a second chance — even if they made a terrible first impression.

1. They don’t know how to make a CV.

Apart from grammatical errors and incorrect typography, recruiters get annoyed when they can’t find specific features. They want to see relevant skills, not abstract descriptions of personality traits.

If you don’t want to hear the scary sentence, “You are not the right person for us,” remove words like “sociable,” “stress-resistant,” and “quick learner” from your resume. They’re cliché, don’t have deep meaning, and usually irritate HR specialists.

  • A few quotes from real CVs include: “Project manager. Responsibilities and achievements: I managed a project. Assistant manager. Responsibilities: assisting a manager. Position: full-time mother.” © Elanchik / Pikabu

  • I once had a resume submitted that had a full-on picture of his face in the middle of it. It had thought bubbles saying, “Hire me, you won’t regret it.” © LadyArtemis32 / Reddit

  • I received a CV that had only 3 lines in it saying, “I will say everything at the interview with my future boss.” Why are they so self-assured? What are they counting on? © Zmeinda / Pikabu

2. They don’t read the description of the job or the company.

Imagine that you post an ad that reads: “I’m looking for a 2-bedroom apartment in the city center” but only receive offers for 1-bedroom apartments on the outskirts of town. An HR specialist feels the same way when they have to interview people who didn’t bother to read the position’s requirements.

When an interview starts, many recruiters ask what a job seeker knows about the company. If a person says that they didn’t have time to research the question or just Googled the information right before the interview, their chances of getting the job are very low.

  • Part of our interview process is a quick tutorial on making a basic product — which will initially form most of their day. We’re very upfront about this, put it on all the application forms, and remind people when we phone them to schedule interviews. One haughty young lady said, “I’m not doing that, I could damage my nails.” When I asked if she realized this is what she’d be doing as her daily job, she accused me of wasting her time and promptly walked out. She then reported us to the third party job site for lying about the job offer. It literally said, “Production Assistant” and explained the role pretty clearly. © AnnualAntics / Reddit

  • Recently, we’ve been hiring for a new position at my startup. While the position is demanding, we advertised the role with no salary for the first few months, which was also written clearly in the ad. From the get-go, the guy said that “his time was valuable” and that “he wanted to get straight to the gist.” Then he said he didn’t want to work for a startup. Afterward, he said that he offered IT consulting services and charged $58/hour and that he would take work on that basis. © Anonymous / Quora

3. They want to get a job they’re not qualified for.

HR managers try to avoid job seekers who lack the necessary skills or have no idea about their job responsibilities. Some job seekers even send out their resumes at random in the hope of getting a better job in general.

  • I asked if she had experience with Aloha (my bar’s POS system). She said she’d never been to Hawaii. © ICaughtAPigeonOnce / Reddit

  • I saw someone listing the fact that they were a mother as a qualification. Almost all of her experience was with kid-related tasks. It might fly for a nanny role or something, not so much the admin role she’d applied for. © Herbert_Erpaderp / Reddit

  • I was looking for a manager. I got a CV saying, “I can type text on PC, work in text editors, I know English orthography and punctuation. I used to work as a typist.” © mebvr / Pikabu

  • Once a girl wrote, “Do you have a vacancy?” I replied, “Yes, a sales consultant.” She asked, “What do they do?” We didn’t ask for her CV after that. © Catarina0905 / Pikabu

4. They can’t prove their competencies.

Employers and HR workers don’t like it when applicants talk too much about how they want to work for such a wonderful company and how they would appreciate this experience. Companies are interested in people with specific skills that they can prove.

  • I am looking for an intern-programmer. What is required? Logical thinking and attentiveness, at least. 70% of applicants can’t solve simple school logic tests, lose the conversation flow, and forget what they were talking about before. © AnnaBelaya / Pikabu
  • I advertised for an admin to work in my office a few years ago and received 235 applications. One application was blank — no cover letter or resume, and even the application itself only had a name and phone number on it. I called and let her know that her application was incomplete — she needed to fill out the application form, attach a cover letter and resume, and resubmit. Her reply was, “Ask Professor X who I am. What times do you have available for the interview?” I said, “Until the application is complete, it doesn’t matter who you know. I have to interview the most qualified applicants, and until this information is complete, you are not among those applicants.” She later included a cover letter. It said something about knowing Professor X and having 25 years of experience working in an office. It didn’t tell me anything about her skills. © Quora User / Quora

5. They lie about their skills and competencies.

63% of job seekers lie in their CV. People embellish their experience, add non-existent jobs, blatantly lie about knowledge of foreign languages, and for some reason, hide their real age.

To call a sly person’s bluff, it’s enough to ask a question that requires a deep answer or to ask for recommendations from a previous place of work. Many companies generally check a candidate’s social networks and look for data to prove their qualifications.

  • “Yo habla Español? What is that? German?” they asked. “No. Spanish. You wrote here that you can speak Spanish,” I replied. “Oh, yeah. I just wrote that because my boyfriend said it looks good.” © babayagastrikesback / Reddit

  • My friend works as a recruiter in a big company. She once told me a story. A guy sent an excellent CV as an IT specialist. They called him for an interview. He couldn’t answer any questions and was very sullen. She thought he was another liar who copied someone else’s CV. But still, she asked, “Why should I hire you?” The guy was smug and said, “I know that you pay your IT personnel this salary, and I also want to have it.” She had never met anyone so arrogant.

6. Their punctuality is questionable.

The working day for someone working in HR is very tight and every minute is precious. If someone is late, the whole schedule can be disrupted. However, those who like to arrive an hour earlier can also cause trouble. The early risers need something to keep them busy so that they don’t ask if they can get in every 5 minutes.

It’s best to arrive 10-15 minutes before the scheduled slot in order to have time to get to the necessary office. But if your plans have changed, it’s polite to let the recruiter know in advance.

  • We were waiting for a girl for the position of a marketeer. She had an excellent CV, we had a good interview over the phone, and everything seemed nice — but she was 30 minutes late, then she called us and asked how to get to our office. It’s the twenty-first century, the era of gadgets and Google. Even the simplest phone has GPS. Shouldn’t a marketeer know how to use Google Maps? That was a real test drive. © Val419 / Pikabu
  • Do you know what the weirdest excuse not to come to an interview was that I’ve heard? “Sorry, I can’t come because I died.© nikalolly / Pikabu

7. They can’t choose proper attire.

It’s best to focus on a neutral business style. Keep bright-colored garments, deep V-necks, short skirts, and stiletto heels for other occasions. By putting them on, you’re showing the interviewer that you’re not a serious person.

You should also look like your photo (if you sent one). HR specialists like to recognize the candidate as soon as they enter the office.

  • A woman came in wearing a pair of flesh-colored leggings that made her look as if she wasn’t wearing pants at all. She had a sweatshirt on that opened in the front that had been pulled to the side a bit to reveal a lacy camisole top. We work as therapists. She never got that job. © ConneryFTW / Reddit

  • I had an interviewee coming in for an entry-level, customer service position at a large company. She showed up to the interview 15 minutes late in Hello Kitty pajama bottoms, a matching backpack, a bright pink hoodie, and warm fuzzy slippers. © ADamnInAK / Reddit

  • A woman came to an interview for the position of office manager. Everything was fine in her CV as well as during our conversation over the phone. But when she came in, she was dressed in a blouse made of translucent fabric, her hair was dirty and disheveled, and she smelled somewhat unpleasant. She was adequate during her interview but if hired, the entire office would have to deal with her every day, and her desk was right at the entrance, making her the face of the company. © Val419 / Pikabu

8. They don’t care about rules or subordination.

HR specialists assess not only their professionalism but their communication skills and work experience as well. Even if your former boss was the devil in the flesh, you don’t have to speak badly about them.

It’s polite to thank the recruiter for their time by writing a short follow-up email. This must be done within 24 hours after the interview. This way, the candidate will get some bonus points for politeness and it will also give them a chance to reintroduce themselves.

  • I’m the only girl in my department. I had a candidate come in and breeze through the technical interview. Then it was time for the peer interview with me to make sure he would fit in with the team. He shook my hand and then expressed surprise that they let secretaries interview people for IT positions. © KnittinAndB***hin / Reddit
  • A guy assumed he had the job during the interview so he was very relaxed. He leaned back in the chair, showed up late, and was texting the whole time. Another candidate told my fellow interviewer she could get paid on her voice alone. Neither of them got the job. © lfslshlps / Reddit

  • I was interviewing applicants with my female boss and I go out to call this guy in for his interview. As we enter, I say, “Hello, I’m Mr. Barnidge...” and before I can finish, he says, “Hello, and who’s the little lady?” At that moment I heard a snap, which I later found out was my boss breaking a pencil under the table. When the interview was over, she just said, “No, no, no!” © Thomas Barnidge / Quora

9. They overestimate themselves and their capabilities.

Everyone gets peeved with candidates that have inadequate queries. These are people who want to get a promotion even before they get hired. Or they ask questions like, “How would you interest me?” or “Why should I choose your company?” or “Will you cover my mortgage costs?” These “experts” who give unsolicited business advice or “stars” who think they’re indispensable have a high chance of being rejected.

  • We were looking for a manager who would be responsible for cold calls to a small company. The interview over Skype with the candidate was excellent. But when we had a meeting in the office and I asked her to make a few cold calls as a test, she refused and began to pick up her things. When I asked her what was wrong, she replied that she could complete the test task if we were the company of her dreams. We should just be happy that she even came. © yariker / Pikabu
  • I’m a manager at a popular 24-hour restaurant chain and had a younger guy come in for an interview who had some decent experience and was very polite over the phone. But when he showed up, I immediately knew we wouldn’t be hiring him. He came in the store with no shoes or shirt on, came up to the counter, and said he was “here to meet the manager he’d be replacing” and that he needed his uniform and $30 an hour. © Vesuvious_Boi / Reddit

  • A weird guy was coming to a bank for 2 years. He wanted to work in the telemarketing group but he had inflated self-esteem. When the HR manager said she couldn’t read his questionnaire because of his illegible handwriting, the guy replied, “Of course, you can’t. I am a genius.” He didn’t get that job.

10. They get angry when they’re asked tricky questions.

Recruiters may ask, “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” or “How do you fit an elephant into a fridge?” These questions aren’t to make you angry or to find a reason to reject you. Such questions help them to find out how an applicant reacts to unforeseen circumstances, to assess their creativity, and to understand whether they fit in with the team. This is an excellent chance to show yourself off and get extra points from the HR worker.

  • The question, “Why should we hire you?” usually dumbfounds. This is a trick to make you demonstrate your personality traits that weren’t mentioned in your CV. One of our applicants passed the interview successfully after he replied, “Because I’m dressed in the corporate colors of your company.” © Alvarorecoba20 / Pikabu

Bonus: a story that proves you can land the job even if the HR manager is against you

  • Many years ago, my partner, David, was a shop manager and was advertising for a full-time shop worker. One morning, this kid came into the shop in dirty jeans and a T-shirt and asked about the job. David gave him an application form and told him to complete it, which the kid did straight away. David said that he was starting interviews that afternoon and arranged a time. The interview time approached. The kid turned up on time, still wearing the same clothes, and now smelling of offensive body odor.

    The first question was: “What have you done?” He answered, “I’m just out of prison.” He was in prison for multiple counts of shoplifting! “Why didn’t you change or look smart for the Interview?” David asked. “Because I live several miles away and I didn’t have the bus fare to get home and back. So I hung around in town all day.” David hired him. HR was very very worried.

    Years later, the man was still employed and was the assistant manager. He turned out to be one of the most reliable and honest employees David had ever hired. One day, he admitted that he turned to shoplifting when he was younger so that he could get caught and be taken away from his abusive father. He was safer in prison than at home.

    So he was the worst-looking candidate with the worst CV, but he turned out to be the best employee. © Richard Stubbings / Quora

Have you encountered any funny or weird situations during an interview? We’d be happy to read the opinions from both applicants and recruiters.

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