Interviewing for jobs can be a nerve-racking process, especially if it’s your first time. You’ve been told that you should shake your potential employers hand, dress smart and smile – but what about those things you definitely should NOT do. SmartPig spoke to nine employers about the things that they hate seeing at interview. They tell us their pet peeves so that you never have to make them.


Milad Hamedani, Vice President Business Compliance Analyst

‘The worst thing someone can do is stick only to the script and not tell me anything about themselves. When I interview I’m asking everyone the exact same questions and everyone is coming in with the same qualifications and experience. If you don’t talk to me and go off script a little then you won’t stand out. I hate having to ask someone ‘tell me about yourself’. Just talk to me and show me what makes you shine.’

Thomas Storm, Visual Merchandising Manager

‘You’d be surprised by the amount of people that have walked into the building ready to be interviewed wearing earphones and listening to music. It’s a pet hate of mine as it looks scruffy – you’re here to make a good impression so look smart and ask questions. It’s always disappointing if an interviewee waits for you to do all the asking.’

Anna Magee, Magazine Editor and Healthista CEO

‘As much as being late is a no-no, being too early shows disrespect for someone’s time. Arriving five minutes early is fine but half an hour or more is annoying as most people’s time is diarised. If you’ve thought of ways to improve the business and have the guts to say so, I’ll be impressed as it shows confidence.

If you don’t know anything about the company I definitely won’t be. I’d also say that not sending a follow up email is a bit sloppy. Just send a short email stating your keenness the next day to leave a good impression.’

Do your research

Crispin Miller, Bar and Restaurant Manager

‘When someone talks badly about previous employers that is an instant turn-off for me. And it sounds basic but maintaining good eye contact is also extremely important.’

Lorraine Carruthers, HR Manager

‘Not doing enough research about the company and having no questions to ask are extremely off-putting. It’s also disappointing when candidates turn up and they are chewing gum and have put no effort into their appearance. And turn your phone off (or put it on silent)! A vibrating phone mid-interview doesn’t make you look good.’

Suited up

Murdo Elwis, Corporate Accounts Resourcer

‘I work in a contracting environment and I am put off if a candidate immediately discusses the daily rate without wanting to know more about the project. To me this makes it clear that they are more interested in the money than making sure they are a good fit for the role. It also makes me think they might jump-ship and terminate their contract early if they get offered a better deal elsewhere. Leave the money talk for later on in the conversation and show some commitment to the role and the company first.’

Running late

Pedram Esghipour, Assistant Sales Manager

‘The worst people to interview are those that are dressed scruffy, are underprepared and show a lack of drive. To make a good impression at interview you have to seem hungry for the job. Too many candidates walk through the door and don’t seem bothered about being here. Show me you are keen.’

Anastasia Evans, Associate Director of a Creative Production Company

‘My worst interviews are when the person has obviously applied for hundreds of roles and they can’t differentiate between all the companies they’re speaking to – it’s transparent that they aren’t excited about this particular role. It’s also more important to show an understanding of the industry rather than just knowing facts. So talk about industry topics rather than reciting facts from the website.

In creative roles it’s really important to be able to sell your ideas and your understanding of culture, so a bad interview is just the opposite of that – one where the person isn’t enthusiastic or forthcoming with information.’


Steven Watson, Digital Marketing Manager

‘The worst thing you can do is not research the company beforehand. We have a lot of people that come for housekeeping jobs and have absolutely no clue what we do as a company.’

So there you have it – foolproof advice from the pros on how to ace your next interview. Whatever the industry having the right attitude, knowing your stuff and making an effort goes a heck of a long way – happy interviewing!

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Date Posted

05 April 2019