20 Ways to Turn Off an Interviewer

The interview is like a first-date.

You are checking out the company and the people you meet with and they are evaluating you.

You are both looking for some sign that this may lead to another date, or even a long-term relationship.

During an interview, a similar evaluation is occurring.

Are you doing things to turn off the interviewer?


You have between six and 30 seconds to make a first impression, depending on which study you choose to go by. Your physical appearance is all you’ve got so don’t dismiss the importance of the details. Below are some of the most popular reasons candidates have been eliminated:

  • Lack of professional appearance or inappropriate attire.
  • Poor eye contact, poor handshake or unfriendly body language.
  • Poor hygiene, bad breath, gum chewing, smoking and strong perfume.

If you are unsure what to wear or how “professional” is defined by the company you are interviewing with, go ahead and ask the person arranging the interview what the dress code is for the interview.


Obviously, you need to have the skills to perform the job. If a company is going to invest in you, even if it means they have to train you to get up to speed, they want to see that you can handle the job. Soft skills are equally as important as technical abilities, so you should be aware of your communication and interpersonal skills and if needed, work on improving them, especially when you are in situations that make you nervous or stressed.  The interviewer may use these factors to eliminate you:


Your attitude is under a microscope too. Even before you arrive at the interview, the company can and probably is, assessing your behavior. Here are the top turn-offs based on what you do and say:

  • Arrogant, “know-it-all” attitude.
  • Tardiness or not showing up for interview on-time.
  • Personality problems or irrational behavior.
  • Overly aggressive or manipulative behavior.
  • Unrealistic goals, career and job expectations.
  • Lack of energy, enthusiasm, and direction.

Remember, this is a first date. You want to put your best foot forward and be on your best behavior!


Will you fit in with the team and will the hiring manager be able to manage you? In short, are you likable? Always watch what you say and even if goaded, never indulge in trash-talking anyone. The interview may feel relaxed, but never let your guard down. Recruiters wouldn’t say the following were deal-breakers if they hadn’t heard these topics brought up during interviews:

  • Racist, prejudiced and sexist remarks.
  • Negative comments about supervisors and coworkers.

There are two sides to every story and you should know: the interviewer is likely going to take the other side.


Employers want to hire someone who is professional and knows how to conduct themselves in the workplace. They also want someone who is interested in the position. You can demonstrate both by preparing for the interview like you would prepare for a major project. Sometimes you can tell the other person just doesn’t want to be there. It isn’t one thing but a series of behaviors and answers that lead you to the conclusion that they just aren’t that in-to you. These are clues that you may not be ready for the job:

The next time you have an interview scheduled remember: you only have one chance to make a great first impression. Make sure you learn the rules and etiquette of interviewing, conduct research on the company, the job and the people you will be meeting and be ready with some sharp questions.

By Hannah Morgan

Hannah Morgan provides no-nonsense help for new job seekers. She provides advice and serves as a guide to traverse the treacherous terrain of today's economy by focusing on pro-active strategies for job search and leveraging social networks. Career Sherpa is one of many outlets where Hannah shares her information. Follow Hannah on Twitter @careersherpa!