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Career Advice

6 Things Hiring Managers Don’t Want In A Candidate

Posted by Heather Huhman

November 27, 2012

You’re a qualified candidate, and the job market is tough. But there could still be plenty of reasons you’re getting passed over for every position you apply or interview for. A recent Glassdoor post reported that only 17 percent of hiring managers say job seekers have the skills they’re actually looking for to fill their open positions.

Among the qualities hiring managers want in a candidate are a global business perspective, social media savvy, and a wide-range of skills. But is it possible that you have some qualities that turn hiring managers off, despite your best traits and abilities? Definitely. To avoid being skipped over for a job, check out these traits hiring managers don’t want to see in a candidate:

1. Lack of energy. If you’re not clearly energetic and enthusiastic about the company or position, it will show in the interview. Having enthusiasm shows you’re driven and have a desire to be active at all times, which is a quality that inherently makes you a good worker. No one wants to hire a passive candidate who complains or can’t keep a good attitude, even when given the more mundane tasks. Remember, your energy level will show the second you walk in the door, so commit to being enthusiastic from the get-go.

2. Inability to use free time. Hiring managers don’t want to see a candidate who has no additional interests or personality beyond what’s required to get a job in their industry. You need to show you’re a human being, not a robot. Hiring managers love to see candidates with hobbies, or even those who have taken on a second job—it shows you’re able to make good use of your free time to expand your skills and interests, and this is a quality that’s likely to spill over into your professional life.


3. Procrastination. Recruiters want to be sure they’re hiring someone who’s punctual, and they’ll shy away from anyone who doesn’t demonstrate a clear ability to see things through to completion. Provide examples of times when you’ve wrapped up a big project, like writing an article or completing a design portfolio. Show that you’re someone who spends your time well, and hiring managers will pick up on this as an indication that you’d put the same dedication into their company.

4. Unpreparedness. If you show up at the interview without having a working knowledge of the company, what its mission is, what type of work it does, who its clients are, etc., do not think it won’t show! Hiring managers will be able to tell from the get-go if you haven’t done your homework and fully researched the company. Come armed with a few additional questions to ask at the end of the interview to show you’re already engaged in the company’s mission.

5. Job hopping. If you’ve had tons of different positions in the last two years, or tend to leave a company after less than six months, this could signal you’re flaky, difficult to work with, or at the very least, unsure of what it is you really want to do. That doesn’t mean you need to lie on your resume – simply be honest with the hiring manager about what exactly has caused you to switch companies so many times. Reassure them that although you may have taken a while to figure out exactly what type of position or company culture you’re looking for; there are still multiple instances in which you’ve demonstrated you’re dependable, then provide concrete examples.

6. Shaky online presence. Thirty-seven percent of hiring managers check candidates’ social media sites these days, and the number is only growing. If you lack a solid online presence, this could show you don’t pay attention to detail, aren’t truly engaged in your industry, or at the very least, don’t care about how others perceive you. Make sure you’ve got some sort of presence online, and that it’s a positive one. Start a professional Twitter account or blog, and look into the specifics of how to brand yourself. The last thing you want is for your Google search results to stop your job search short.

There are tons of different qualities hiring managers may be looking for in their candidates, and these can vary heavily depending on the nature of the open position. But no hiring manager likes to see the qualities listed above. Eliminate these negative attributes before you dive into an application or interview, and it could mean the difference between remaining unemployed or finally landing that open position. Good luck!