Employers may think they hold all the cards when it comes to interviewing job candidates, but they too can do things that will scare off would-be workers. That may not matter if it’s a low-level position the company is seeking to fill, but if its top talent the company is after, then interviewers have to tread carefully during the interview process.

“Employers scare off candidates probably more often than they realize,” says Crystal Miller, a strategist at Branded Strategies, the recruitment and brand strategy company. “Everything is geared toward what the candidate should and shouldn’t do. Many employers don’t realize it’s an audition for them too.”

The job market may be tight, but when it comes to sought-after skills, companies are increasingly competing for top talent. The worst thing a company wants to do is lose a potentially great employee because of bad behavior on the part of the interviewer. From being unprepared to saying inappropriate things, here’s a look at seven behaviors that will send potential employees running for the hills.

1. Being Unprepared. One of the quickest ways to turn off a job candidate is to fail to prepare for the interview beforehand. If you spend the first few minutes of the interview looking over the resume, the job candidate will know that fairly quickly. It sends the message that the job candidate isn’t important and/or that the company doesn’t respect the people that work for them, says Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half International, the staffing company. “There’s a war on talent for many skill sets,” says McDonald. If the candidate gets the impression from the first interview that he or she isn’t important, then they may think it’s indicative of the company’s culture and choose to work elsewhere.

2. Saying Inappropriate Things. Even if your company embraces a culture of swearing, the interview is not the time or place to showcase that. According to Miller, there has to be boundaries during the interview because without them the candidate will worry about what it’s actually like to work at the company.  “Don’t be the one cursing or oversharing,” she says. You can touch upon the quirks of the culture so the candidate knows what to expect without engaging in the behavior.

3. Rushing. Job candidates, whether they are employed or out of work, take time out of their day to go on an interview – not to mention the time they spend preparing in advance. If the person conducting the interview doesn’t spend enough time with the job candidate it can leave them with a bad taste in their mouth. “If you appear rushed or as if there’s another meeting to go to candidates can get turned off,” says McDonald. “Not having enough time to go through the interview shows you don’t respect the candidate.”

4. Talking Too Much. The only thing worse than a self-centered person that drones on and on about their life is an interviewer who engages in that behavior. According to Laura Kerekes, chief knowledge officer at Think HR, the human resources consulting company, a big mistake interviewers make is monopolizing the conversation or making it about themselves. “The candidate cannot tell his or her story or learn what he or she needs to know about the company and job to make an informed decision,” in that situation, she says.

5. Not Knowing Enough About the Position. The whole idea behind an interview is determining if the person is the right fit for the company and the open position. If the person conducting the interview doesn’t know the details of the job and the skills needed to perform it, he or she won’t be able to accurately gauge the candidate’s competence. “It shows a lack of respect,” says Miller. “The candidate’s time is just as valuable as the organization.” Miller says it can be frustrating for the job seeker if the person conducting the interview can’t answer basic questions about the role. “If they don’t respect me now when they are trying to attract me how will they treat me when they have me,” says Miller.

6. Not Taking Notes. Chances are a company will interview multiple people before they choose a candidate. If the interviewer doesn’t take the time to jot down notes during the process, the candidate can interpret it badly. “It shows the candidate that either this person has a photographic memory or is not interested, and it’s usually the later,” says McDonald. Even if the interviewer thinks he or she can remember the interviews by the time they get to the third day chances are everything will be mixed up. “If you don’t focus on the interview you could be driving a great candidate away,” says McDonald.

7. Making the Interview Process Too Complex. Most job seekers know they will have to go through two or three interviews before getting an offer, but if the process is too complex or confusing, chances are it’s going to turn off a lot of potential candidates. According to Miller, it’s a huge turn off to job seekers if they have to go through multiple personality tests before they are even granted a phone interview, then be interviewed by multiple people, then top it off with a written essay or test. “For the most part, especially if you are hiring experience, we’ve been put through the paces, we’ve gone to school and had those entry-level jobs,” says Miller. “There’s a line to what’s appropriate to put someone through before you say yes.”


Donna Fuscaldo is a freelance journalist hailing out of Long Island, New York. Donna writes for numerous online publications including FoxBusiness.com, Bankrate.com, AARP.com, Insurance.com and Houselogic.com. As a personal finance reporter for years, Donna provides invaluable advice on everything from saving money to landing that dream job. She also writes a weekly column for FoxBusiness.com focused on technology for small businesses. Previously, Donna was an equities reporter for Dow Jones Newswires and a special contributor to the Wall Street Journal. Through the Glassdoor Blog, Donna will provide tips on how to find a job and more importantly keep it.