14 Turn Offs During a Job Interview

14 Turn-Offs During a Job Interview

Posted on Posted in Interview Techniques

14 Turn-offs during a job interview

Did you know that interviewers don't always hire the candidate who was the most highly qualified or skillful? I know! Shocker!

Your interview performance is crucial but sometimes the little things can drive an interviewer mad and affect their hiring decisions. Here are 14 turn-offs during a job interview.


Being late - 14 Turn-offs during a job interview1. Lateness

It goes without saying that you should be punctual for your job interview but so many candidates turn up late. I know many employers who refuse to see candidates who don't attend at their allotted time, so, please don't be late!


2. Limp handshake

Urgh! There's nothing worse than a limp handshake, or none at all for that matter. Offering your hand, with a smile and great eye contact will ensure your interview gets off to a great start. A handshake should be firm but not bone crushing. A quick up-down is fine.


3. Telling the interviewer that you are nervous

Every interviewer expects their candidates to have a degree of nerves before and during the interview. If you are nervous, there's no need to tell the interviewer that you are. Just take your time and follow these tips to reduce your nerves.


Overpowering scent - 14 turn-offs during a job interview4. Overpowering Scent

One of the biggest turn-offs during a job interview. Regardless of gender, one of the main gripes I hear from interviewers is that candidates often have an overpowering scent. If you wear perfume, aftershave or cologne then do keep this subtle and although it may sound obvious, make sure that you are clean! So many candidates have sweat marks and this is definitely not a good look! Remember that you may be nervous which can, in turn, cause you to perspire more than usual so deodorant is an essential piece of kit. Just make sure that whatever you squirt yourself with, it's not going to make the interviewer choke! You should be remembered for your work skills and not for how you smell!


Tattoos - 14 turn-offs during a job interview5. Tattoos

If you have tattoos then it is usually best to keep these covered. Personally, I like them but not all interviewers do. Many companies have tattoo policies in place as part of their dress code rules, so if yours are on show, their attention may be focussed on how their customers may feel. Just cover them up then deal with what you can or can't display once you get the job.


6. Distracting accessories

Many employers I speak with regard distracting accessories as one of the biggest turn-offs during a job interview. I am not just talking about the ladies here! Keep jewellery to a minimum. Jangly, dangly earrings may drive the interviewer potty and anything that rattles is a definite no-no. If you have a tendency to play with earrings or rings, leave them at home. Another annoyance with some interviewers is long, fake nails. While you may be used to wearing these, your future colleagues may not be too happy sitting next to you if your nails click and clack on your computer keyboard.



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Mobile phone - 14 turn-offs during a job interview7. Mobile phone

Switch-it-off! I don't know how many interviews I have facilitated where the candidate has a mobile phone and places it on the table during their interview. No, no, no! Switch it off and keep it in your bag or pocket – out of sight. Even if you have it on silent, there's a chance the interviewer will see it light up (or even worse, hear it vibrate) and will assume that you aren't taking the interview as seriously as you could. Keep your focus 100% on the interview.


8. Bad Breath

Avoid anything that can give you bad breath. Last night’s curry or garlic bread may still be lingering so if that was your gourmet of choice take some mints or breath freshener with you. Are you a smoker? Resist the temptation to puff to calm your nerves. The interviewer WILL smell it. Just had lunch? Check your teeth for leftovers.




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Search and apply for jobs in London & the South East


Alcohol - 14 turn-offs during a job interview9. Alcohol

Even if you have fresh breath, if you drank alcohol the night before, the interviewer may be able to smell it. It comes through your pores! Don't take the chance. Abstain the evening before. Never, ever drink on the day of your interview. I know of a candidate recently who popped into the pub at lunchtime for a bit of ‘Dutch Courage' before his interview. He was perfect for the role and this was his final interview – out of 2 last remaining candidates.) Did he get the role? No!


10. Fidgeting

When candidates are nervous, they may fidgit. This can be very distracting for the interviewer and will highlight that you are nervous. See above for accessories and leave them at home if you have a tendency to play with them. Are you a toe-tapper? Cross your ankles to avoid looking like the next Fred Astaire. Finger drummer? Keep your hands together on your lap until your nerves subside.





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11. Lack of research

Quite simply, if you don't conduct thorough research about the company and role for which you are interviewing, the interviewer will question whether or not you are serious about working there. It is crucial to your success to complete enough research to know exactly what you are letting yourself in for! Listen to Episode 5 of my free, weekly podcast to understand this in depth. Don't let competing candidates get the role over you because you didn't prepare enough.


Questions - 14 turn-offs during a job interview12. No questions prepared

Personally, this is one of my biggest turn-offs during a job interview. It drives me insane when candidates don't have questions prepared to ask me. I just don't understand it. Every employer wants to know that you are keen to work for them. Show your enthusiasm and prepare questions to ask during and at the end of the interview. Here are some top questions for you.


13. Asking awkward questions

It always surprises me when candidates ask the following questions:

  • “How many people have you interviewed so far?”
  • “Why did the last person leave?”
  • “How have I compared to the other candidates?”

It's none of your business! Asking questions such as these are likely to make the interviewer feel awkward. Even if they do tell you the answers, what can you do with the information? Nothing!


All about you - 14 turn-offs during a job interview14. All about you

During your job interview, you should show the employer why they NEED YOU and not steer the discussion to what you want from them. Leave this until your final interviewer (if you are asked) or during negotiation stages when you are offered the role. Yes, you need to find out if the company will be a right fit for you, so of course, ask questions, but make sure you demonstrate your skills and credibility first before stipulating your wishes.

Listen to my free podcast for how to answer the job interview question, “Tell me about yourself.”


Are you an employer or recruiter? What are your biggest turn-offs during a job interview?



Have you been turned down for a job role due to any of the above? Let us know. Please comment below.




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