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Which Interview Bad Habits Give Hiring Managers the Ick?

We can all agree that job interviews are a minefield. From choosing the right outfit to answering difficult questions with confidence, they can be a stressful experience for jobseekers. Yet while hiring managers can tolerate a few pre-interview nerves, there are plenty of behaviors during the hiring process that can kill a candidate’s chances of securing a role.

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Which Interview Bad Habits Give Hiring Managers the Ick?


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Bad breath, poor etiquette and general rudeness give plenty of people the “ick” in the dating world. If you've spent any time on LinkedIn, you'll know that common posting tropes like buzzwords and toxic positivity also tend to invoke feelings of ickiness. Who doesn't have that one connection who claims to start the day with a cold shower at 5am in their search for a "rockstar" hire with a "winner's mindset"?

But when it comes to job interviews, which behaviors give hiring managers the ick? To find out, Ringover surveyed 1,200 people with remote and in-person interview experience across a range of sectors and age ranges.

Key Findings

  • Lateness is the biggest hiring ick for interviews overall, with 35.8% of managers being immediately put-off by it.
  • Improper research of the company before an interview is the second-largest turn-off for employers, with 30.7% agreeing that it gives negative vibes.
  • No eye-contact is a big red-flag for in--person interviewers, with a third (33.7%) of managers bothered by the lack of it.
  • Late (32%) and distracted video callers (30.1%) give interviewers the ick.
  • Interruptions and using a speakerphone for calls (33% each) are the worst part of phone interviews for hiring managers.

Lateness Remains the Biggest Hiring Ick for Managers

We can never predict what life throws at us, and any number of unexpected events can send our day off-course. Yet when it comes to interviews, there is almost no excuse for a late arrival. Nothing flags red to recruiters more than a candidate that can't keep track of time, particularly in roles where deadline management skills are essential.

Lateness remains the biggest hiring ick for managers

According to our survey, 35.8% of respondents say that lateness was their biggest hiring ick in any interview situation–whether in-person or remote. Our recruitment respondents found this more off-putting than a candidate that failed to properly research the company or role before interviewing (30.7%), and even getting the business's name wrong during the interview (28.4%).

No Eye Contact and Rudeness Put In-Person Interviewers in Icky Situations

Navigating your way through in-person interviews can be challenging, yet it remains the primary choice for businesses. 95% of our respondents said that they still prefer to sit down in-person with candidates.

With so many established and unwritten rules on etiquette to learn, which vary depending on industry and a hiring manager's preference, establishing that all-important connection from the start is vital.

No eye contact and rudeness put in-person interviewers in icky situations

However, it seems that many candidates didn't get the memo. Of the hiring managers we surveyed, a third (33.7%) said no eye contact was off-putting for them, as well as arriving late to the interview itself (38.4%). Studies show that eye contact has a positive neurological effect in conversation, making the other person feel engaged and involved during the interaction. While it may be easy to overlook when feeling nervous, it is undoubtedly an important skill to master.

Our survey shows that 30.8% of respondents told us that they felt put off by those who were impolite to their colleagues, highlighting that a candidate's behavior towards other staff within the organization before and after the interview matters.

Therefore, it's important for candidates to make a good impression with everyone in the business, not just the hiring managers on the day. Columbia University's careers department suggests a number of important techniques to remember for candidates, from communicating clearly to confident body language.

Video Interviewers Hate Late Starters and Camera Shirkers

According to Gartner, as many as 89% of organizations moved to virtual interviewing processes for recruitment during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it appears that its ease and convenience has caught on in the years since. Our research shows that 82.2% of respondents continue to interview candidates using platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Video interviewers hate late starters and camera shirkers

While candidates may be in their own surroundings and it may feel like the pressure is off, etiquette is still important–and poor form can still give hiring managers the ick. While lateness continues to be a major red flag (32%), other basic video call no-nos were off-putting, according to our survey.

Chief among these was the candidate speaking to somebody off-camera during the interview (30.1%). If that wasn't bad enough, 30% of managers noted that the candidate's camera not being on was a major red flag. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the gray areas on video conferencing etiquette, with businesses and institutions learning best practices on the fly during 2020.

However, making a good impression during video interviews still remains important. The University of Massachusetts recommends that candidates prepare for the situation as they would for an in-person interview, while making sure they are in a quiet space in an appropriate setting.

Interruptions and Speakerphone Interference Infuriate Bosses

Phone interviews can be daunting. With the absence of eye contact and body language cues to build rapport, introverts and extroverts alike struggle with their demands. Yet they are often used to streamline the recruitment process to save time and resources when hiring for a new position. Candidates can explain their resumé in an informal setting before having their experience scrutinized in-person. In fact, 81.8% of respondents in our survey used a phone call to interview a candidate.

Interruptions and speakerphone interference infuriate bosses

While the process might seem simple, job seekers can still sell themselves short, giving off the wrong vibe that can quickly end their application. According to our research, the biggest red flag for candidates is when they interrupt before a hiring manager can finish asking a question or making a statement. 33.8% of bosses said that was their biggest hiring ick, worse than speakerphone users (33.1%) and candidates who failed to give the call their full attention while driving or engaged in another activity (32.1%).


Between 11/20/2023 and 11/22/2023, a total of 1,200 adults were surveyed about the behaviors they find most off-putting during job interviews. In total, 1,147 respondents said that they had interviewed candidates for a job in the past (95.3% of the sample).

Respondents were asked a series of questions related to job interview behaviors in a variety of situations, and whether they would be deterred from hiring someone if the candidate displayed those behaviors. We asked respondents about their experience with in-person interviews, as well as remote hiring processes such as video and phone calls.

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