I’m just going to say it: I had some really bad interview habits before I became a recruiter. What’s worse is that I thought I was really awesome at the whole process. However, when I started talking to candidates, I realized I was irritated by the very same things that I used to do that I thought made me the perfect person for the job.

Now that I’ve been on the other side, I know a little more about what’ll grate on even the calmest recruiters’ nerves. To help you make sure you don’t make those mistakes in your next big meeting, here are the top three:


1. Name Dropping Your College

Personally, I’m really proud of where I went to school. On the rare occasions the football team is halfway decent, that pride is hard to control. But, unless a hiring manager asks you a specific question about where you went, it can really rub a recruiter the wrong way to keep weaving it into conversation.

It would be unfair of me to say that all candidates who talk too much about their college are just trying to use it to impress hiring managers. But, it can really get tiresome to hear stories about your experiences on that 150-year old quad that so many presidents have also walked across. Trust me: If you went to a great school (or a school known for a specific program) and the person you’re interviewing with cares about that, he or she already noted it from your resume.

Yes, hiring managers can relate to how terrible your dining hall’s food was or how awesome your team played one year, but if they try steering the conversation back to why you’re the right person for the job, put your college scarf down and make sure you answer the questions they’re asking you.


2. Writing Impersonal Thank You Notes

I know what you’re thinking—isn’t it enough that I’m writing one?

Unfortunately, no. While there are some really great templates for thank you notes, if you don’t take the time to personalize at least some piece of it, it will be obvious where it came from. And I didn’t realize how annoyed I’d be by a thank you email that was clearly taken straight from a template until I started getting a bunch.

Here’s the thing—when a hiring manager takes the time to schedule a meeting with you, he or she sees something really incredible about your background. And that’s not the case with every candidate, so you should be proud of the fact that you made that recruiter stand up and say, “I need to meet this person.” But, you should also appreciate this time enough to spend even a few minutes personalizing that letter. I’ve actually ruled out contenders who were otherwise great because their thank you notes were so dry, they made me think they didn’t want to work for us.


3. Following Up on the Phone

Not all companies make it explicit not to follow up after you submit an application. However, most would agree that the follow-up call is really, really annoying. And as much as you think it might help your chances, I’ve personally never been positively influenced by one of these dreaded phone calls.

There are plenty of ways you can go about following up on an application. Poke around your LinkedIn connections to see if you know someone who could put in a good word. Seek out a recruiter at meetups or job fairs. Set up an informational interview with someone who works there.

But, whatever you do, avoid that follow-up call at all costs. As impatient as I understand you can be about moving things along, it’s important to know that the best recruiting departments have really solid processes in place. And those processes often don’t allow them to get back to you right away.



Recruiters are annoyed by a lot of things, and I will admit, some of them are irrational. But, these three things are mentioned time and time again by hiring managers. Now, won’t beat yourself up if you’ve made these mistakes in previous interviews, just keep them in mind for next time so you can rock it.


Photo of frustrated man courtesy of Shutterstock.