6 surprising little things hiring managers judge you on within the first 15 minutes of a job interview

Hiring managers take a lot into account during the interview process — and every little action counts, from your body language to the tone of your voice to the things you say.

Within the first 15 minutes of an interview, their top priorities include determining whether you’re capable of maintaining positive workplace relationships and being a team player. Sure, your actual skills and experience matter, but how you interact with your potential co-workers and and handle your responsibilities directly impacts a company’s success, your career advancement, workplace satisfaction and even your mental health.

To ensure success, you’ll want to avoid the most common behaviors that hiring managers judge you on within the first 15 minutes of the interview

1. Sounding overly pompous and confident

You see yourself as: A genius
Hiring managers see you as: A know-it-all

It’s good to talk about all the great ideas you had in your previous jobs and how you made them work, but be somewhat humble about it and don’t take all the credit.

When you fail to acknowledge the people who helped you (i.e., your team’s contribution or your boss who provided wonderful guidance), you give your hiring manager the impression that you have a big ego and aren’t a team player. The most valuable people in an organization are the ones who acknowledge and motivate those around them, so give examples that show how you’ve demonstrated those qualities.

2. Saying negative things

You see yourself as: A voice of reason
Hiring managers see you as: A negative Nancy

Don’t be so quick to point out the flaws in your current or previous employers and colleagues (i.e., “We weren’t meeting revenue goals because our managers were slackers.”)

A recent CareerBuilder survey found that 62 percent of employers are less likely to promote employees who have a negative or pessimistic attitude. Always look for the positive things in your experience. If you felt overworked at a previous job, for instance, talk about how it taught you to better manage your time and set boundaries.

3. Having no strong opinions at all

You see yourself as: A peacekeeper 
Hiring managers see you as: An yes-man/yes-woman

You want the hiring manager to like you, but that doesn’t mean agreeing with every little thing he or she says. Employers want to hire people who are bold and have opinions that lead to innovative new ideas. These are the people who aren’t afraid to disagree or raise their hands and ask the questions that no one else will.

You’ll likely be asked questions that require an honest opinion or questions about how you would do X, Y and Z. Don’t offer generic answers. Remember that it’s OK to disagree with something as long as you have a good reason.

4. Bragging about having ‘never missed a day’

You see yourself as: A warrior
Hiring managers see you as: A germ factory

Being present at work is important, but companies want to make sure their employees are smart enough to prioritize their health — it can be costly if they don’t. Going on and on about how you’ve “never missed a day at work” implies that you have a tendency to drag yourself to work on days when you’re feeling sick.

Many candidates think that a perfect attendance record is a sign of dedication, but to employers, it’s a liability. The last thing they need is an entire team being absent simply because someone came to work with a contagious illness.

5. Sharing too much about your personal life

You see yourself as: An open book
Hiring managers see you as: An attention seeker

There’s such a thing as sharing “too much” about your personal life, from your terrible date last night to replaying the details of your recent doctor’s appointment in great detail. Talking through personal challenges with your office mates helps you process. Sometimes a good cry or venting helps you feel better. But avoid bringing any of that into the interview.

Know where to draw the line. Even if it’s something that may affect your work arrangements (i.e., you’re dealing with personal family issues and will need to work from home X days a week for X amount of time), work it out in the conversation you have after you’ve received an offer.

6. Not being present

You see yourself as: A (busy) VIP
Hiring managers see you as: Disrespectful

Apart from being late to an interview (which is the biggest red flag), don’t risk of letting your hiring manager see a phone in your hand, especially right before he or she comes out to greet you. And don’t even think about taking it out during the interview.

Hiring managers notice all those little things, like if you take a quick glance at your phone, wristwatch or clock on the wall. If they see you checking the time, it’ll seem like you’re distracted and thinking on “more important” things. Show up early and and stay present. Let them know that this job interview is your most important priority right now. Looking “too busy” isn’t a badge of honor, it’s just disrespectful.

Debby Carreau is an entrepreneur, author and founder of Inspired HR. She has been recognized as one of Canada’s Top 25 HR Professionals and is a regular contributor on multiple TV shows, Entrepreneur Magazine and many other print and online publications. She is a board member for YPO and Elevation Group as well as an Advisory Board member for FinDev Canada.



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