When you go in for a job interview, it’s imperative that you make a stellar first impression.
There are tons of small mistakes you can make that could end up costing you the job.
Reddit users recently discussed some of these pet peeves in the the thread “Employers of Reddit, what is a prejudice you hold against the people you interview?“
A similar question “What words should you never say while being interviewed for a job?” was asked on Quora, which received many answers from recruiters and employers as well.
With that in mind, here are 22 important tips on how to avoid ticking hiring managers off:
Jacquelyn Smith and Natalie Walters contributed to a previous version of this story.
1. Guilt tripping the employer into giving you a job
“Telling me about how badly you need this job because of all the problems you have will get your application thrown in the trash,” says Reddit user pinkiepieisbestpony, because candidates who have a lot of “baggage” usually turn out to be problem employees.
Fellow commenter WhizmoAlke agrees and says they had someone actually cry during an interview. While it made them feel awkward, they say they were no more inclined to give them the job.
SoundBearier put it more bluntly: “This is a business, not the Red Cross.”
2. Graduating late with no work experience on your résumé
Reddit user creaoiumm — a lawyer — says they are tired of seeing applications from law-school students who are over 26 years old and have no job experience (not even babysitting!).
Instead, he says their résumés tend to be filled with different hobbies or trips they took during the summer. “As someone who started working at age 16, I’ll admit I think less of someone in their late 20s who has never held any kind of job, however small.”
3. Making spelling mistakes on your résumé
Redditor Gibberish_talk says if they see a misspelled word on a résumé, it gets thrown out.
“We obviously all make mistakes, but if you can’t take the time to proofread something so important then I don’t need you,” the Reddit user says.
4. Having your parents inquire about jobs on your behalf
ScarinasVault — a middleman between candidates and HR — says they’ve seen a marked increase in the number of parents asking for jobs on behalf of their kids or even asking for help with their child’s résumé.
While these actions may come from a good place, the commenter says, “if you can’t bother to show up to ask then we can’t be bothered to take you seriously.”
A few commenters say lying is one of the biggest mistakes candidates make.
Some say you don’t have to be 100% honest 100% of the time — but they advise you to give answers that are mostly truthful and maybe slightly edited to be more socially acceptable.
6. Inappropriate social media posts
I_think_things says if they find you on social media and you have racist or “idiotic” postings, then they will likely pass over you.
Even if your social-media pages are clean, you may want to consider setting them to private mode.
7. Showing up late
Redditor -eDgAR- says he is dumbfounded by people who show up late to interviews and wonder why they didn’t get the job.
On the flips side, SpoopsThePalindrome points out that if the employer is late or unaware that an interview is even happening, then you should be wary of a company or boss who can’t manage their schedule.
8. Not dressing appropriately
Commenter Marginbuilder is prejudiced against people who don’t dress appropriately for the interview, because “if you can’t dress appropriately for an interview then you can’t dress appropriately for work.”
10. Freezing up mid-interview
Koeikan also they are immediately turned off of a candidate who freezes up mid-interview. They say they’d rather the candidate ask questions or work through the question out loud.
To be clear, they don’t mind someone taking a moment to think through their answer, as long as they don’t give that deer in the headlights look — and it’s very easy to tell the two apart, Koeikan explains.
“For me, it’s less important that everyone gets 100% of the answers right… I want to be able to see their thought process as they work through the problems.”
11. Using an inappropriate email address or old email service
A number of users say if your email address is inappropriate or if you still use Hotmail or AOL, then you will be seen as out-of-date or not very smart.
Your best bet is to use some combination of your name with a Gmail account because it’s professional and up-to-date.
12. Talking negatively about past employers
Redditor Alienthere says if someone talks badly about a previous boss, then he won’t hire them because they’re usually people who “struggle with authority or dealing with coworkers.”
A few examples of the inappropriate comments that candidates have made during an interview include “my manager was incompetent,” “my boss played favorites,” “my boss wouldn’t give me the days off I requested,” or “there was a lot of drama with coworkers.”
These complaints may sound tame, but they still constitute as bad-mouthing past employers, which is the ultimate professional faux-pas.
13. Talking about religion
TheWorldHatesPaul says if a job candidate brings up religion either in person or on their application, he won’t hire them. “There is a time and place for everything.”
If you were president of a religious group in college or work for a religious charity, you should list that on your résumé, but emphasize the organization and leadership skills it required rather than the religious ones. “It shows you’re willing to work hard and you have experience doing whatever that is,” writes zombiepatches.
14. Sending your application in from a company email address
Musicalrapture says they are always confused with people who apply to a job with their current company email address because it implies that they’re at work and using company time to apply to jobs.
In addition, if you leave that company, they will have no way of contacting you.
15. Bad breath or body odor
You don’t want someone’s first impression of you to be, “Wow, this person smells horrible.”
FiatMortem suggests taking precautions before a job interview, like not using too much perfume, popping a breath mint, and not consuming smelly foods for breakfast.
If your odor is too distracting, “you’re not going to get the in-depth interview that you might need to get the job.”
16. Not turning your phone off
Ya_Zakon says you should always turn your phone off during an interview — unless you’re dealing with a life-or-death emergency (and if you are, you should probably reschedule the interview so you’re not distracted).
ConstableBlimeyChips adds that if you are dealing with a potential emergency — like your wife going into labor — you should make sure your ring tone is generic and let the interviewer know ahead of time that you’re expecting an emergency call.
17. Being rude to the receptionist
Think of the receptionist as the gatekeeper to the organization you’re interviewing with. If you’re rude or dismissive toward them, chances are it’s going to get back to the hiring manager.
Alternatively, if you’re interviewing at a coffee place or somewhere public, be nice to the cashier and wait staff. No one wants to hire… well… an obvious jerk. It’s a good idea to behave courteously and professionally around everyone you interact with in life, but especially during your job interview.
18. Being unprepared
Pawel Chalacis, a software engineer and recruiter, writes on Quora: “When I ask ‘have you seen our website’ and you say ‘no,’ it means that you haven’t spared even five minutes to prepare for this interview.”
Doing your research and being prepared to talk about the company or organization you are applying to and the position you are applying for are essential.
19. Taking selfies in the waiting area
If you are smart and arrive early for your interview, don’t spend those few extra minutes taking Snapchats or selfies in the lobby, writes angela_bee.
She says playing on your phone while you wait does not give off a good first impression. Instead, you should be looking over your résumé, making polite small talk with the receptionist, or just quietly watching other people come and go.
20. Using the word “quit”
David Seidman, a former interviewer and recruiter for Microsoft and current interviewer for Google recommends avoiding the word “quit.”
“Quit means giving up. Almost certainly you didn’t just stop being interested but rather got frustrated about something, found a better opportunity, accomplished the things you set out to do, or the job changed away from your interests,” he writes on Quora.
Employers and managers want to see how you struggled or persevered through a situation that may have been difficult for you and will try to see if you remained engaged or if you disengaged from your team.
21. Talking about race or ethnicity
Seidman also writes on Quora that any word referring to race or ethnicity is “virtually never relevant.”
Of course, “talking about your place of origin may be relevant, but race and ethnicity virtually never are. A candidate may ask about how the corporate culture treats a particular race/ethnicity, but again I would never expect anything but a formulaic answer.”
22. Not taking a video interview seriously
For whatever reason, people have done some strange things during video interviews. But as redditor agorby00 points out, a Skype or video interview is still an interview and should be treated as such.
“I had a Skype interview with a guy during the last month or so I worked from the office,” agorby00 writes. “He used the cap of a pen to clean his ears while we were talking and kept wiping it off on his shirt. He sniffled constantly and swiped at his nose with the back of his hand each time. He was drinking a monster or red bull or something the whole time. I tried to picture him doing this if he was sitting across the desk from me.”
In the end, even if your interview is over Skype, you should present yourself as you would for an in-person interview — meaning you should present professionally and be moderately self-aware.