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5 interview turn offs, lessons from the dating scene

interview turn off

Want to land a dream job? Treat the interview like a dream date!

Interview turn off’s

Dating has it’s faux pas which is very similar to interview turn-offs. With this in mind, this weeks post tries to relate the concept of dating which EVERYONE can relate to with the experience of job interviewing. My thought is that the connection between these two activities should be easy for everyone to recognize. We have all heard that finding a job is just like dating and in an effort to keep my bad dates, I mean bad interviews to a minimum, I thought I would reinforce the message. As a recruiter and a guy in the middle of the pack of single guys chasing tail in the year 2013, I am reminded every day why so many people are single and struggling to hook up. 

Uncanny similarities

I think the similarities between dating and interviewing are UNCANNY. I can only imagine that the same mistakes I see candidates make during the day are the same mistakes being made by singles after 5 PM. Finding a job or a date is easy. Finding a job or a date where both parties appreciate each other in a LTR is an entirely different story.  There may not be a bar, or casual sex involved when interviewing but there are a lot of similarities. Moving forward, just refer to me as Hitch for the corporate world.

I recently stumbled across this article on the Faux Pas of dating, and I couldn’t help but click on the link. Sure enough, for me as an HR pro-am, the similarities were uncanny. 

The following Turn-off’s and Dating Lesson to learn in bold below are taken directly from the above-linked article.  As your corporate Hitch, I interpret these lessons learned for you into job interview speak. 


Turn-off #1: “She checked her makeup non-stop” 

Per the article, this is a dating turn off. This is absolutely an interview turn off as well. If you are paying attention to yourself more than you are paying attention to the recruiter or hiring manager, you have your priorities in the wrong place. The hiring company isn’t paying you to look good. The hiring manager is paying you to get a job done. Even if you are a professional model, there will be a stylist and a makeup person to make you look good so there really is no reason to worry.

There is nothing like escorting someone (male or female) to the interview room and watch them check themselves on every glass surface we pass that offers a reflection of their self-absorbed beauty. True story:  I escorted an attractive candidate into a room where everyone was heads down in their work.  The candidate literally stated, “Wow, you guys work hard here”.  I asked, “What do you mean?” The reply was a classic and one I won’t forget: “Well, none of the guys looked up at me when I walked in.”  Can I get a Mirror?   

Dating lesson to learn: Don’t obsess about your appearance, ladies (and men)

HRNasty lesson:  If the rearview mirror in your car is angled so you can check your look vs. the car behind you, re-read Turn-off #1 one more time. 


Turn-off #2: “He blabbed constantly about his ex” 

No one appreciates being around someone who is constantly putting down their ex. It becomes clear the person that was dumped hasn’t moved on and is living in the past because it’s just their lonely, bitter way. We want to blurt out “Get over it already, he/she obviously did”, but we usually just end up just nodding in agreement to the blather and feeling sorry for the lonely schlep.  

When a candidate comes in and continuously references their ex-employer in a negative light: interview turn off. Whether the break up was mutual or one-sided, I want to make an offer to someone who is looking towards the future and not stuck in the past. It is one thing to talk about an ex-employer when using examples of professional accomplishments, this is acceptable and expected.

Losing my lunch

If you feel you were treated unfairly by your prior employer and reference this 3 times or even just once, I just started to taste my lunch. Singles want to hang out with someone who is “Over their ex and has moved on”. Employers are no different and want to work with candidates who have “Moved on already”. Moving-on is a sign of being adaptable to change, being positive, and looking towards the future. If you don’t have anything nice to say about your prior employer, don’t say anything.    

Dating lesson to learn: Bashing your ex, makes you look terrible

HRNasty lesson:  Bashing your ex-employer makes you look petty.  They were paying you after all. 


Turn-off #3: “He was obsessed with the size of his wallet” 

In the same way that most singles don’t want to hear about how about how much money you make, as a recruiter, I don’t want to hear that all you care about are the benefits, parking, salary, bonus and what’s in it for you. This is a big interview turn off.  This is the corporate equivalent of a GoldDigger, and a trifling candidate indeed. GoldDiggers don’t have the makings of a mature long-term relationship personally.

Most LTR’s are successful because both parties are interested in each other as individuals. Companies want to hire candidates that are sincerely interested in the position, challenges, manager, and yes, benefits are important, but not the first priority. The time to bring up the benefits and the salary towards the end of the interview loop. Candidates who bring up benefits and salary requirements in the first interview are probably not going to see the second interview.       

Dating lesson to learn: Money can’t buy you love

HRNasty lesson:  Money can’t buy love, but it can rent it.  Hiring managers want to buy, not rent.


Turn-off #4: “He paid more attention to his computer than to me”

There is nothing like going on a date where the date is on their phone texting their other friends. We don’t know what they are texting and this distraction sends the message that whoever they are texting is more interesting than we are.

In an interview, there is nothing more frustrating than a cell phone going off or a candidate that states “can you give me just one sec, I need to send this text”. All I can do is assume the candidate will act this way in a business meeting if a position is offered. Candidates that need to focus on FB updates, IM, Twitter, etc, during an interview indicating where their priorities will be if hired. Your date wants you to focus on them not their PC or the phone. I want a candidate to focus on the interview.  

Dating lesson to learn: Keep noise distractions to a minimum

HRNasty:  Turn off your cell phone before you enter the front lobby of the company you are interviewing with.


Turn-off #5: “He had terrible phone etiquette”

Calling early, late and weekends isn’t scoring any points. All I can imagine is that you don’t have any personal awareness OR, you are scared to talk with me and want to leave a message. Neither are qualities that a company wants to pay for.     

I have blogged about phone etiquette here.  How you answer the phone, your ringtone and VM message all send signals that can end the interview before it starts.   

Dating lesson to learn: Be considerate of someone’s time

HRNasty lesson: be considerate of the recruiters time.   


So you see, lessons learned on the dating scene are directly transferable to the job interview.  If you have any questions about the interview process, just treat the interview like a date with someone who is of special interest to you.

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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