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5 things that turn off hiring managers during a recruitment process

Posted on 25 January 2023

5 things that turn off hiring managers during a recruitment process

4-minute read

​We have all read the dos and don’ts to interviewing in general, be it in person, phone or video but I have never sat down and thought ‘what wouldn’t a hiring really want to see’. That was until someone asked me (Martynes actually) and I couldn’t give a clear and concise answer, what did come out was a plethora of information that probably left him more confused than fulfilled.

Therefore this article is for you Martynes, well you and everyone else who would like to know what really does turn off hiring managers during your recruiting process.

To ensure I answer this question accurately instead of just offering my own opinion as a hiring manager I reached out to some friends of mine. Collectively we have hired across different industries and positions and what came out of these conversations has formed the core element of this article and what I believe are some of the most important tips you could read.



If you have actively applied to an opening and shown an interest it is only natural to want to do well. However, appearing as if you know everything (simply saying yes) without substantial evidence to back it up is likely doing you more harm than good.

Focusing purely on what you ‘know’ instead of what you want to ‘learn’ might seem counter-productive when you are trying to impress but it highlights to a hiring manager that you are aware of your limitations and actively interested in improving them.

If you truly do know everything the hiring manager is looking for, this is okay, but advice would say still consider areas that show some vulnerability, you can’t be perfect at everything.


Lack of Self-Awareness

Drawing on slightly to the previous but more around general self-awareness. This can be things such as your body language, verbiage, or hidden bias. Be conscious of how you are being perceived and by who, this means tailoring your approaches dependent on the individual, their role and situation.

A formal interview with the CEO will require a different approach than an informal team lunch.

Being self-aware in these situations means you can put the best version of yourself in the right setting, giving yourself more chances to succeed.

The turn-off usually occurs when you have used the wrong approach for the wrong person, the lack of self-awareness here has put your candidacy in a negative light.


Self-serving Questioning

You will need to ask some self-serving questions for sure, otherwise, you might be a good match for them but not vice versa. The turn-off happens when you are asking too many self-serving questions.

A self-serving question could be ‘What time do you start and what time can I finish during a work day?’ – in theory there is nothing wrong with this question if it is important to you, however, be mindful of how you wrap the question, you can get the same answer by adjusting the wording and making it less about you and more about understanding the business: ‘what does a typical working day look like in the team?’

Some questions might need to be just said how they are, others can be worded in a way that gets what you want whilst showing interest, this is the key difference. Hiring managers want to know you are thinking about them as an employer.


Ill Will

We all know the dangers of speaking ill about former employers, colleagues, and companies but when you’re deep in discussion with someone you are building rapport with (potential employer) it can become all too easy to slip an unsavoury comment or two. Maybe without any real malice however the moment those words leave your mouth the damage is done.

A hiring manager may well be testing you, or perhaps you may have just raised a red flag that was not there before.

Regardless, ill actions never go down well. Stay focused on why you applied to that specific role, draw upon what you learnt from your former / current employer and how that could springboard you into this opening.


Late Arrival without reason

Arriving late to appointments happens. Urgent tasks need focus, your son just threw up, your stuck in traffic, your internet is down… really the list can go on, but you get the idea.

Being late by a few minutes is never an issue as long as you communicate ahead of time that you are running late with justification and when you do arrive at the meeting, you are ready to get going straight away.

If you are running more than 10 minutes late for a 30-minute appointment I would advise asking to re-schedule as you won’t have enough time to complete what is required. Dependent on the face-to-face meeting time slot, I would personally suggest rescheduling any longer than 20 minutes late.

Regardless of how long, the key aspect that turns hiring managers off is a lack of justification as it shows a level of arrogance towards others' time.


If you’re like Martynes and have ever wondered what turns off hiring managers, then I hope this article has given you the answer, or at least things to think about in your next interview process. Naturally, there are always others areas to consider but following the deep discussions I had with a number of managers across Europe, these stood out to be not only the most consistent answers but also the most impactful in their minds.

If you found this article and feel someone in your network could benefit from reading it, feel free to share so we can collectively bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment.

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