8.5 Avoid Interviewer Pet Peeves

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand why recruiters might be annoyed at certain interview behavior and learn how to avoid unpleasant interactions of any kind.
  2. Learn about the importance of body language and practice until your body language is positive and impressive.
  3. Learn strategies to keep your energy positive and strong throughout the interview day.

A number of things can annoy an interviewer and must be avoided at all costs. The following includes a list of things you should not do. Mock interviews are especially helpful at this stage because sometimes candidates are not aware they are doing things that are clear turnoffs to interviewers, so proceed with caution.

Not Being Prepared

Being unprepared is an insult to the interviewer who is investing their time and energy into meeting with you. You should be there on time, have several copies of your résumé in your portfolio, focus on answering any question asked, and have a list of questions to ask at the end of the interview.

Negative Body Language

Positive body language such as looking the interviewer in the eye and shaking their hand firmly when saying hello inspires trust. Poor body language can eliminate you as a potential candidate. Practice answering questions with a friend and look them straight into the eye. Smile when you talk about big goals that you have achieved. You may look away now and then, but for the most part hold their gaze throughout the interview. Sit up straight in an attentive position to help ensure you make a good impression.

Appearing Tense

Stress is a vital component of an interview because you want the job and you need to impress. Using that stress to perform better is key, and, with practice, you can appear more relaxed than you actually are. For example, if your palm sweats a bit, discreetly wipe your hand on your pants leg or skirt before you shake the interviewer’s hand. Preparing in advance usually lowers stress, but if you still need additional methods to calm yourself before an interview, try listening to soothing music before entering the building or read something inspirational before the interview. Taking deep breaths before you enter the building can lower stress a great deal.

Not Focusing on the Question and Not Answering It Directly

If your interviewer asks for a one- to two-minute overview, don’t spend six to eight minutes regurgitating your résumé. Focus and listen carefully to everything the interviewer asks you. If they ask for a one- to two-minute overview, make sure you give them one to two minutes. If you feel you might be going on a tangent and not answering the question, it’s fine to ask if you are going in the right direction, or you can ask the recruiter to repeat the question and start over. Practice is important, even when you practice going off the topic.

Waning Energy

The interview process is strenuous. If you interview with one person, it’s easy to keep your energy up. However, some interviews might be set up where you will interview with multiple people or several individual people throughout the day, and, in some cases, on different floors and in different buildings. Your energy level must be as strong and consistent with your seventh interview as it was with your first. To avoid waning energyYou start off at a high level of energy and your energy then trails off and lowers noticeably., bring a small bottle of water with you to help you feel refreshed. If your interview day will be several hours long, bring a small snack bar to help you stay alert.

Blaming Others for Your Poor Performance

Putting anyone or anything in a negative light is not a good strategy for an interview. Criticizing your past peers, boss, or company puts you in a negative light. Interviewers red flag any type of negative comment and might probe for more negative energy lurking in other interview responses.

Not Treating Everyone with Respect

Treat everyone you meet during the day with the utmost respect, whether it is the security guard, the administrative assistant, or the actual interviewer. Be respectful if you are trying to rush through security or if you are holding an elevator for someone. All of these individuals communicate with each other, and if you leave a bad impression with any of them, it could end your candidacy. Be courteous and kind to everyone you meet. Manners do count.

Key Takeaways

  • The more prepared you are to execute an exceptional interview, the better are your chances of getting another interview or an offer.
  • The interview process can be exhausting, so ensure you have strategies to keep your energy high.
  • Focusing during the interview process is critical to success. Answering questions directly is the best way to showcase your strengths.


  1. Practice focusing on the exact questions asked by an interviewer to avoid going off track in any way.
  2. Practice positive body language for interviews. Ensure you are comfortable in your interview suit, whether you are sitting at a desk or sitting on a couch in the interviewer’s office.
  3. Ensure that all your interview responses are positive and relevant. You can practice this during an interview workshop or with an interview buddy. You can also print the top ten to fifteen interview questions and record your responses, and then strengthen each of your answers after you listen to them.