The 6 biggest pet peeves of hiring managers

Hunting for a new job? Tapping into your network, scanning job search websites, updating your resume, sending out cover letters and preparing for interviews can be arduous and emotionally draining. 

But things are also challenging for the hiring managers on the other side of the equation. They are sometimes desperately looking to fill a role following an abrupt departure while juggling stretched team members and aggressive KPIs. They have to find space in their busy schedules for lengthy interviews that sometimes end up being disappointing despite the best recruiting efforts. 

Remembering this is key when it comes to making a good impression. Aim to make a hiring manager’s life as easy as possible during the screening process and you’ll already have a leg up on the competition. We’ve asked two HR experts for their take on the biggest pet peeves of hiring managers to help you avoid putting your foot in your mouth or making a job application faux-pas. 

1. One-sided conversations

Interviews can be awkward for everyone involved. And there are few things as painful to a hiring manager as having to continuously press and ask formal interview questions in an effort to get a candidate talking. In an ideal world, an interview should feel more like a conversation than an interrogation. 

Candidates should be asking questions and maintaining a dialogue with the hiring manager so that the interview flows well,” says Sherri Rabinovitch, HR consultant and founder of The People Guru

“Be ready to have an intelligent conversation and to convince the employer that your skills and personality are in line with their corporate values and needs,” says Lora Cerulli-Totilo, headhunter and president of recruitment company Personnel Chez-Vous.

2. Lack of research

An obvious lack of research sends the message you do not care much about the company or role and makes hiring managers feel like you are wasting their time. 

“The biggest pet peeve of hiring managers is when the candidate is not prepared,” says Rabinovitch. “They have not read the job description [thoroughly] or at all and do not know anything about the company.” 

“Make sure you understand the position [you are applying to ] and do your research on the company. Understand the business of that company and how your role would help its bottom line (increase sales or cut costs),” says Cerruli-Totilo. 

3. Jumping straight to logistics

Rabinovitch says things like salary, paid time off and benefits shouldn’t be discussed from the outset of a conversation with a hiring manager. “These are things that an initial screen interview with a recruiter would have covered. Plus, the hiring manager is typically not dealing with the approval of salary, which tends to be predetermined by the business unit prior to beginning the candidate search.” 

4. Sloppy cover letters and resumes

Cerulli-Totilo says she regularly gets e-mails and cover letters that begin with “Dear Sir,” which she immediately discards. “It’s 2020. I’m a Madam, thank you, bye and next!” 

It’s also quite common for candidates to submit resumes without contact info — an obvious no-no when it comes to getting a callback. So double-check your application for any glaring omissions or typos and don’t make any gender assumptions about the professionals reviewing your application. 

5. Lack of confidence

While it’s normal to feel nervous in situations where you feel you have to prove yourself, do your best to manage your stress to avoid habits like talking too fast, cutting the hiring manager off, chewing gum loudly, playing with your hair or biting your nails. 

“Look at the person in the eyes when you are speaking to them. Don’t slouch – sit tall and proud. Speak with confidence,” says Cerulli-Totilo. 

However, if you have an underlying condition that makes it difficult for you to avoid these nervous responses, know that hiring managers and recruiters actually may be understanding about these things. “ It is extremely important to note that sometimes these perceived ‘bad habits’ can be a result of nerves or an underlying condition that the candidate has and did not wish to disclose in fear they would not be considered for the role,” says Rabinovitch. Admitting you’re very nervous can help quell the moment and propel the conversation forward. 

6. Assuming the hiring manager knows a lot about you

While it’s fair to expect hiring managers to make candidates feel welcomed and respected, it’s also appreciated when candidates understand things from the point of view of the hiring manager and take the time to brief them — even if there have been conversations with a recruiter before the meeting. 

“Consider the fact that you’re one of many candidates and that the hiring manager possibly did not get all the details of your background and experience from the recruiter. Be prepared to go into detail about your work experience,” says Rabinovitch.