do you have terrible job search manners?

You probably know to dress appropriately for the interview and to turn your cell phone off beforehand (or we hope you do!) but there are some finer points of etiquette that can make a real difference in the impression you make during your job search. Here are 10 ways to be sure you’re minding your manners while applying and interviewing for jobs.

1. Be on time, but not too early. Most people know to show up for an interview on time – but did you know that it’s possible to show up too early? Showing up five or ten minutes early is fine, but showing up earlier than that can actually come across as rude. Arriving very early means that your interviewer may feel obligated to stop whatever she’s in the middle of to come out and greet you, and it’s not that different than showing up early to a social gathering before the host is ready for you. Your appointment was scheduled for a specific time, and you should assume that’s the time the employer really meant.

2. Be polite to everyone, not just the decision-makers. Some job candidates are warm and gracious to decision-makers like the hiring manager but unfriendly or even rude to others they encounter during the hiring process. If you’re cold or impatient with the receptionist or the person who calls to schedule your interview, the hiring manager is likely to hear about it and consider it a significant strike against you. On a similar note…

3. If you’re interviewing with multiple people, make sure you address your answers to all of them. Some applicants will speak mainly to the interviewer who they think is most important while practically ignoring the other people in the conversation. Not only is this rude, but it’s also evidence of awful judgment since it’s highly likely that the other interviewers’ input will carry weight (that’s why they’re in the interview, after all). Be sure you’re looking at and making eye contact relatively equally with everyone in the interview.

4. Avoid the temptation to take Googling to an extreme. Sure, it’s good to research the person you’ll be interviewing with so that you can get a sense of her professional background. But stick to professional boundaries and avoid any personal information you might run across. Mentioning to your interviewer that you like the restaurant she just reviewed on Yelp or that you saw she vacationed in Spain last year, you’re likely to creep her out.

5. Don’t let your eagerness about the job turn into pushiness. Calling over and over, leaving multiple voicemail messages, or trying to get other people in the company to give you answers when you can’t immediately reach the hiring manager will all come across as overly aggressive and pushy. It’s true that job hunting can involve aggravating waits, and it can be tempting to contact an employer multiple times – but the most likely outcome of that is annoying the hiring manager and harming your candidacy.

6. Pay attention to your interviewer’s cues about time. If your interviewer tells you that she has set aside one hour and has a lot of questions to ask, take that into account as you talk. That means, for example, that you shouldn’t spend 10 minutes answering the first question since that would be 17% of the entire interview time! Similarly, pay attention to body language and other cues; if your interviewer looks impatient or bored or seems to be rushing you through an answer, take it as a sing that you need to be more concise.

7. Don’t spend interview time asking questions that you can find the answer to on your own. Asking basic questions about the company that are answered on its website is a terrible use of precious interview time, and frustrating for your interviewer as well.

8. If you see an employer called you but didn’t leave a message, don’t try to track the caller down. Sometimes job candidates will see a missed call from an employer and will call the number back to say, “Someone called me from this number.” If you reach the main switchboard when you do this, you’re likely to end up dealing with an annoyed receptionist who won’t know who called you and isn’t likely to want to try to track them down. If the person who called needs to reach you, they will try again (or will leave a message). Speaking of leaving messages…

9. If you call and get voicemail, leave a message – don’t just keep calling over and over. Some candidates are so determined to reach the hiring manager on the spot that they don’t leave messages and instead just keep calling and calling, hanging up each time they get voicemail. But many offices have Caller ID and it’s not going to look good if the hiring manager sees you’ve called seven times today. It’s even worse if she’s sitting right by her phone each time it rings, but not answering because she’s on a deadline or speaking with someone else.

10. Say thank you. Writing a short, gracious thank-you note after an interview can help solidify the strong impression you hopefully made during the interview. These days, it doesn’t need to be handwritten; email is fine, and often even preferable since decisions on candidates may be made before a note sent through the postal mail makes its way to your interviewer’s in-box.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 84 comments… read them below }

  1. Secretary

    Amen on the one about being polite to everyone.

    This is not necessarily a workplace story but the context is similar. I was a Stage Manager for a musical, and during casting we had two gals who were both equally qualified and talented. They were both perfect for the role, and the director and producer were debating back and fourth about whom to cast. I had worked with both of these gals in prior shows as a crew member, and I was asked about how they were backstage. One had always been easy to work with while the other was rude, unkind and showed insubordination backstage. The cast decision was made so quick it made my head spin.

    I can absolutely see this happening in a workplace too. Two candidates of equal capabilities but who treat the receptionist differently could easy sway the hiring decision.

    1. stevenz

      Yeah. I got a job over another candidate because the hiring manager asked the receptionist who she would prefer to work with. The receptionist told me this after I was hired. Like Samuel Goldwyn said, “The secret to success is sincerity. Learn to fake that and you’ve got it made.”

  2. Dan

    Speaking of that caller ID thing…

    I once reached out to my grad school program director, asking if he could put out some job notices on the student listserv.

    I got a resume from someone worth some initial consideration, but things dragged out. This kid was a poster child for the “call until you reach someone, but never leave a message.” I wasn’t a decision maker at all, but just the POC. I went out on bereavement leave for three days, to come back to *17* missed calls from this person… and not a single voicemail.

    I get so few phone calls, that I had forgotten to update my out of office greeting.

    1. TamiToo

      Yes to voicemail. I often have people in my office, or I am on the phone. Please, please, PLEASE leave me a voicemail message. Don’t call over and over repeatedly. It drives me crazy because the phone is repeatedly ringing, and I really can’t pick it up right then and there. If I recognize your number, I think that you are incredibly rude, and I will subconsciously (ok, maybe consciously) hold it against you.

  3. grasshopper

    Yes to voicemail. I know that there is a generational thing about voicemail, but it still is in widespread use as a business technology. If you’re returning calls and don’t reach a person, leave a voice message. If you’re expecting to be called, check your voicemail.

    1. Greengirl

      I don’t know that it is generational. I work in a theater where most of our patron base are senior citizens and there are many people who will call and call and call without leaving a voicemail.

      1. Kelly L.

        Ah, I wonder if there’s sort of a no-voice-mail sandwich! Answering machines were kind of a new thing when I was growing up, and it was common to be annoyed by them, and then we all got used to them and later to voice mail. So there’s a point before which everybody just called and called until they got a live person, because there was no other option, and then a point after which caller ID was so ubiquitous (and so exact–with cell phones, you usually know exactly who called you, not just what household called you) that people got back out of the habit.

        1. some1

          I think there is something to be said for this. At my work, most of our clients are middle-aged or older, and many of them are averse to leaving messages, especially on our main line after hours. They have this idea that leaving a message with a live admin will be more successful at getting their call returned.

          1. Dan

            I think it is fair to say that as a consumer,we have *no* idea which businesses actively monitor voicemail and which ones just let it go to a black hole.

              1. lm

                I’m glad you guys do that. I’m always pleasantly surprised when my voicemails are actually returned. In my extensive experience with calling medical offices (as a patient, not in professional life), I’ve found that places that promise to call you back never actually do. I leave a message, but then call back tomorrow. I do space it out a few days before leaving another voicemail, though.

                I’m a millennial.

              2. VintageLydia

                I’ve yet to have a business return my call regardless of the vm message, so if your customers’ experiences match mine, I’m not surprised.

      2. all aboard the anon train

        This, My grandparents would call and call and call. My parents leave voicemails. My brothers and I just call back later.

        I rarely leave a voicemail just because I know so many people who never check their voicemail.

        1. Jillociraptor

          Same here. My grandmother has just started leaving voicemails in the past couple of years, while my brother and I (late 20s, both of us) will call each other, but send a text rather than a voicemail to clarify just calling to say hi, versus needing a call back.

          I only leave a voicemail if the person isn’t expecting my call or might not recognize my number. At work, I usually send an email, mostly for the paper trail.

        2. Skippy

          My father calls me ALL THE TIME and leaves angry-sounding voicemails that just say, “Call me back.” He never says what he wants. So I call him back, always thinking that something bad has happened, and every single time, the question will be:

          “How do I delete an email again?”

      3. SG

        I was briefly stuck on a customer service line at the end of my last job, and people were CONSTANTLY trying to get through to “a real person” even though about half the time, if they had listened to the messages, they would realize I was the WRONG person. Crazy making.

    2. Lizabeth

      I’ve always figured if it’s important a message will be left; if not, it’s not that important and I’m not going to worry about who “may” have called.

    3. Bigglesworth

      I’m going to say that this isn’t a generational thing. My primary client base is between 25-60 and most of them will call and won’t leave a voicemail. Our phone system is old enough that I can’t see who has called – the only way I can tell is if they leave a voicemail.

  4. Kaitlyn

    Womp womp — I ran into a situation you spoke about here on Friday. I had a voicemail message from a hiring manager asking me to call her back. I attempted to call back a couple of times, but only after those attempts did I leave a message. In retrospects, I have no idea why I didn’t just leave a message right off the bat. Ah well…

    1. hbc

      A couple of times after having been asked to call, and you eventually left a message? Not so bad. No one would reasonably be knocked out of the running for that.

    2. Jillociraptor

      I completely relate to this: If I’m preparing for a phone conversation, and get voicemail, I sometimes just freeze and can’t do it! I’ve had some really embarrassing moments when I hung up in a flurry of panic, realized that I really did need to get in touch with the person, called back, and had them answer, assuming it was an emergency because I’d called more than once in 5 minutes. Phone anxiety, ugh.

      It sounds like you didn’t go totally off the deep end here: tried a couple of times to catch the person, couldn’t, and left a message. Well within the range of normal, I’d say!

      1. Kaitlyn

        I too have phone anxiety, so I had no idea that my actions might have been out of line, but now that I’ve read Alison’s article, I can totally see how it could be inappropriate/annoying. I was trying to avoid having to play voicemail tag, but that ended up what I had to do. I still haven’t heard back on the message I left, either, so I’m a little flustered.

      2. Emelle

        Yes! If I am geared up for whatever the phone call is about, voice mail throws me off. (Much like its cousin, the intentionally call late to leave a message and someone answers…)

        1. Kaitlyn

          Ha! Classic — “how *dare* you answer the phone when I had a voicemail message rehearsed”

        2. LQ

          Oh, or when you call expecting to get a giant phone tree and a 20 minute wait time and suddenly there’s a human being? Eep! I have food in my mouth and the call is on speaker for the long haul.

      3. Karo

        I…may write out scripts for myself. One for if a real life person calls, one for if I get a voicemail. Because if I don’t I get so flustered that I sound like a total idiot.

    1. Jennifer

      I would have said that he’s flirting with the woman he’s talking to, but he actually looks a little dreamy. I agree with you: it’s Friday, and he’s not even hearing a word she says.

  5. Machiamellie

    Oh jeez about the overly aggressive following-up. I had reached out to a candidate about a software engineering role, an industry with an unemployment rate of, like, point oh five percent. If a software engineer isn’t employed, there’s usually a reason why. We found out why this guy wasn’t employed, or at least we assumed it was, because he was so desperate and pushy in his following up. He’d call me AND the hiring manager multiple times a day, send emails “just to check in,” etc. Unfortunately we’re waiting on the client to say go, so we’re in a holding pattern. Yet he still sends emails that start with “Another week has gone by and still no word from you…” when we’ve already responded back to his voicemails/emails every time. Very annoying.

    1. voluptuousfire

      While he was certainly too aggressive in his follow up, did you ever respond to his emails to let him know that things were on hold and you’d reach out when you had info? I’m curious.

      I think this guy would have been a nuisance no matter what, but did you at least keep him in the loop?

      1. Liane

        Next to last sentence ends with “… when we’ve already responded back to his voicemails/emails every time.”

    2. Gandalf the Nude

      I think I’ve told this story before, but I had an applicant call multiple times a week looking for a leg up on the competition. I told him the hiring managers would call if they thought he was a good fit based on his application. I told him we wanted the best candidate, and that if his experience didn’t qualify him, repeatedly calling me wouldn’t make up for it. I told him to stop calling. He still called. So instead I told the receptionist to stop forwarding his calls, and then I told the hiring managers to dump his application. They eventually hired someone who did not stalk my extension for weeks.

      I posted that story on Facebook a couple months ago and later caught up with a friend who’d recently started a new job. She told me my post kept her from pestering her hiring manager while she was waiting to hear back. I was so proud!

  6. Long Time Reader First Time Poster

    An addition to the “send a thank you note” — a piece of advice I have benefited from is to always ask for the job. When I write a thank you note, I make a point of explicitly saying that I am very interested in and excited about the job, and and why. I’ve even been known to add something like this in closing: Again, thank you for considering me for this terrific opportunity. Please feel free to call me if you need additional information, have any questions, or would like to offer me the job! Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    I have had more than one hiring manager comment favorably on the impact my thank you note style. I think a lot of people come across a bit wishy washy in the follow up email — they thank people for their time but don’t show a lot of excitement or energy about the job. Obviously, know your audience, and don’t go nuts with the exclamation points, but be enthusiastic.

    1. some1

      I think it’s good to show enthusiasm and reiterate your interest, but I would not want to work for someone who passed me over because I literally didn’t ask for the job in my Thank You note – taking time off work, dressing up in a suit, and getting being prepared to interview should make it obvious enough imo.

    2. Sparkly Librarian

      I can see the benefit of (re)stating that I’m interested in the job after the interview. After all, ideally it’s a two-way discussion. I wouldn’t want my continuing enthusiasm and willingness to be considered to be assumed (or, worse, not assumed because I wasn’t clear!). But the full “Please feel free…” sentence kind of rubs me the wrong way, like I’d be telling the hiring manager or HR contact how to do their job.

      1. OhNo

        Same, that would kind of hit me wrong. Not sure why, exactly, but it does.

        In my thank-you notes, I usually use language that Alison has advised before – thank you for meeting with me, the position seems like a good fit, very excited about the opportunity, hope to hear from you. Exciting? No. But I’ve gotten good feedback on how easy-going and patient I appear during the hiring process, so apparently it works just fine.

      2. CMT

        Exactly. They’re already going to call you if they have questions or want to offer you the job.

      3. SouthernLadybug

        I agree. The rest of your letter is great. But for some reason the “would like to offer me the job” part would annoy me. It definitely wouldn’t be a deal breaker if you were already the top candidate, but in my head I’d be thinking, “um, yeah, I know that.”

        1. LQ

          Yeah, I would put the first two in there, largely out of habit of trying to make sure I come off as open because I don’t always appear to be and because it’s been hugely important in my jobs. The last part feels a little off.

  7. Allison

    I’ve always been against following up, but unfortunately many people are still doling out crappy job searching advice, especially the “advice” to follow up often. I kept my followups to a weekly e-mail asking about the status of my application, and even that seemed pushy. It didn’t work, either. Now, if I’m in the process I will send an e-mail when it’s past the time I was told I’d hear from someone, but that’s about it.

    1. some1

      Yeah, the only time following up by email ever worked for me was when they had gone with someone else and forgot to notify me. Otherwise, you have to figure that if they want to speak to you again or offer you the job, they won’t forget.

  8. hbc

    Regarding showing up early, I’ve realized I haven’t provided good information to interviewees to help out, and it’s kind of dumb that I haven’t given that I’ve had the same issue. I’ve interviewed at places where it takes at least 30 minutes to find a parking spot, navigate to reception, get through security, and finally end up in the same spot as the HR rep/hiring manager. My current building, it’ll take 90 seconds from the public street to the visitor parking spot to the front door/reception if you’re a slow walker. And you’re really, really visible hanging out in your car, and there’s no obvious spot to go elsewhere.

    So I don’t judge people for showing up early, but I should really give them some guidance so they know they can be pulling in with 5 minutes to spare and still be comfortable.

    1. Lauren

      Iwas advised many years ago to get there with time to spare, but to park in a place where you couldn’t be seen from any window or door in the building. So I would often park a half block or even a block away, even around the corner where I was absolutely positive I could not be seen, wait until five minutes before the scheduled interview and then walk over. It got me there right on time with some extra to park and calm myself. Worked perfectly.

      1. Jack the Treacle Eater

        Absolutely; this is wwhat I do. First, check out the route / access / business on Google Maps / Streetview to see if there’s likely to be any issues – it’s incredible how often companies don’t have adequate car parks or industrial estates are overflowing with cars. Second, arrive with LOTS of time to spare to allow for problems, particularly if you’ve anticipated any – but once you’ve got there and checked out the access & parking, then go and get a coffee or do something else that’ll let you relax and arrive back at the interview on time and unhurried.

  9. tink

    For multiple interviewers, I generally direct my answer primarily to the person that asked it, although I try to make sure I acknowledge and make eye contact with everyone. That’s been a little awkward the few times one interviewer in the room didn’t speak other than introducing themselves, but it feels… rude to me if I answer something and don’t look at the person that asked the question.

    1. OhNo

      Agreed, I also feel slightly rude if one person asks a question and I direct my answer anywhere else. I might glance away to others briefly, but my main focus is usually on the asker. A possible addition might be to address your own questions to different people in the room. That way, you are still engaging with everyone.

  10. Gaara

    I actually had an interview recently where the person interviewing me specifically told me not to send a thank you note. Just thought that was interesting!

    1. SG

      I would love if someone did that. Sometimes I really enjoy writing a thank you note to the person because we really hit it off, but often it feels so perfunctory.

  11. Michelle

    “Don’t let your eagerness for the job turn into pushiness”- Dealing with that right now. We have 3 positions we are hiring for, all different departments, different hiring managers. 50% of calls today are people “checking on their application”. I always ask what position they applied for and they usually say “whatever is open”. I have to tell them that unless we have an open position, we don’t accept applications/resumes, so I really need to know what position you applied for so I can take a message or give you the time frame that you can expect a response for that particular position. (Maybe that should also be on the list- if you call, know what position you actually applied for!)

    One person called to “schedule their interview”. I couldn’t help myself- I actually laughed out loud at him. I asked if he was sure he called the right place because we were still accepting resumes and had not even gotten to the point of scheduling interviews.

    A couple of other gems from today:
    * Someone applied Friday, called Sunday (we are open 7 days a week but the admin offices are closed on Sunday), called against this morning to “check on my application”.
    * Another check on my application call and when I asked what position they said “the one in the paper and on the website”. We have 3 advertised in the paper and 3 on the website, which of those did you apply for? “I’ll consider all of them”. Well, one of them requires a 4 year degree. If you don’t have a degree, they are not going to read the rest of the resume.
    * Check on my application call #3. The actually know what position they applied for! Unfortunately, the hiring manager for that position is out due to a death in the family and they are not expected back in the office until Wednesday. The caller wanted to know who died and their name so they could send flowers. No.

    1. Leatherwings

      I hate that “whatever is open” business. I used to sort applications for multiple positions at an internship and I never had any idea what to do with those! Don’t make interns decide if your application belongs in the accountant folder or the project manager folder. I promise it will not end well for the applicant!

  12. Michelle

    “Don’t let your eagerness for the job turn into pushiness”- dealing with that right now, especially the ones who are “calling to check on their application” when the deadline for accepting applications/resumes hasn’t expired yet. Also, if you are going to call to “check ” on your application/resume, know what position you applied for. We have 3 open and if you respond “anything that’s open” or “all of them”, I’m going to tell you that if you don’t know what position you applied for, I don’t know who to leave the message with and no, I’m not going to leave a message with all of the hiring managers. Applications/resumes are turned over to the hiring manager for the position the job searcher applied for and if the job searcher didn’t specify, yours get put in the miscellaneous file and has a slim to none chance of being reviewed . If you are applying for all three, separate resumes and cover letters are expected.

    I know times are still tough but if you are applying for jobs and don’t know or can’t remember what position you applied for, the hiring managers are going to see you as a serious applicant.

    1. Michelle

      Sorry for the double post! The first one didn’t post immediately so I tried to edit it down a bit.

  13. pnw

    I am a female hiring manager. I do phone screen interviews and then bring in 2-3 candidates to meet with a few members of our team. It’s not uncommon for male candidates to address themselves to the male employee(s) in the room and ignore me completely even though I am the one making the decision on who to hire. I refuse to hire anyone who does this because I feel that they won’t work well with a female boss (and it infuriates me).

    1. Carissa

      I hate, hate, hate it when men do that. When my mom went to buy a car, the salesman asked my stepdad questions like what price range and options was he looking for? When my stepdad said “she’s buying the car, you will need to speak with her”, the salesman said “how sweet, papa is buying the little lady a car”. Guess who didn’t get a sale that day?

      1. Barefoot Librarian

        Ugh. This.

        I can’t tell you how many times I have had this kind of experience. My husband, though a very talented, intelligent man, knows nothing about cars. The salespeople never seem to catch on that the lady in the relationship might actually be the person they should be talking to. The sexism is strong with those guys.

      2. tink

        I can’t decide if I would immediately ask for their manager so I could tell them in person why they wouldn’t be getting my business, or if I’d immediately leave without any niceties and then call to speak with their manager later. They definitely wouldn’t be getting a sale from me (or friends/family) though.

      3. Delyssia

        When I went to buy my first car, I had a friend take me, because at least in my area, not a lot of car dealerships are particularly accessible by public transportation. My car shopping companion was a friend and only a friend, but said friend is a man, and I’m a woman. We walked into a Honda dealership with me already pretty well sold that I wanted a Honda Fit… And then both salesmen talked entirely to my friend, not to me, no matter how much he tried to redirect them. So we headed on, figuring that there are other Honda dealerships, but decided to just stop by a Mazda dealership, where the first question was lobbed at both of us, my friend deferred to me, and from there the salesman addressed me directly. And I bought a Mazda3 that day.

      4. ginger ale for all

        The Kia dealership did that to me. The only question they thought I would be able to answer was what was my favorite color. I would ask about a test drive, they needed to know my favorite color, I would ask about deals, they would ask me again about my favorite color, I would ask about their warranty, and again back to the color thing. I wish I had thought to say that I was color blind.

      5. JOTeepe

        Yup, this happened with my last car. It was a little more subtle, but still clearly addressing my husband and not me. I let it ride … he didn’t really understand that my background – HR and comp analysis! – is a lot better at driving a hard negotiation. He DID NOT know who he was dealing with! :)

  14. Feo Takahari

    I usually go for 15 minutes early in case they have documents to fill out. I find that if I’m only five or ten minutes early, I have difficulty filling out all the documents before the interview.

  15. TheLazyB

    I always think that the people who need the advice about being nice to receptionists and other ‘lowly’ members of staff don’t deserve it. Honestly I hate the thought that people might put it on at an interview and then go back to their usual rude selves afterwards.

  16. Brett

    We often interview candidates by phone only (it goes with the nature of how we search), and I’ve noticed that the interview team is always impressed when a candidate addresses their answer to the person who asked the question. It’s a simple (though tricky) thing to do that has impact.

    1. Gabriela

      That is a really tough thing to do that requires a lot of concentration and being *very* observant. Phone interviews with a panel are so hard for me for this exact reason.

      1. Brett

        Yes, it definitely is tough to do. I think it helps that we tend to end up with a group of interviewers with distinctly different accents.

  17. pomme de terre

    Be nice to the receptionist because it’s what decent human beings do, and also because the receptionist (or office manager or personal assistant to the Big Cheese) is often the most well-respected and secretly powerful person in the office.

    I seriously cannot imagine someone at my office being rude to our receptionist and getting a job offer. There’s no way she would let it slide, and if she kicked up the info to HR, they would act on it.

    1. Dang

      So true. At my first job out of school I was the receptionist at an executive recruiting firm. The partners would routinely ask me how the candidate acted while they were waiting and how (s)he treated me. They wanted to send people who were both personable AND competent to their clients. And believe it or not, some people really just didn’t get that.. or discounted me as a 22 year old dingbat… so they never got very far!

    2. Feo Takahari

      My old department didn’t have a receptionist, so our first point of contact for visitors and job applicants was the operations assistant. I think she was at roughly the same rank and responsibility level as our HR equivalent–she definitely outranked me, at least. I can’t imagine someone being dismissive of her and still getting a job offer.

  18. HRChick

    Once, an applicant called me and asked me to transfer her to a hiring manager for a specific position. I explained that we don’t do that (unless the hiring manager says we can) and offered to let the hiring manager know she called. She argued with me. I was polite but firm and hung up.
    Then I heard the director’s phone ring and she had almost the exact conversation.
    Then I heard the payroll director’s phone ring and, again, almost the exact conversation.
    Then my phone rang. It was this woman. Again. Asking to be transferred to the hiring manager for a different position. Again. Had the same conversation – and she still argued with me when I said no.
    And again, the director’s phone rang, etc.
    We went through several rounds of this (evidently, she’d applied to every job – even ones she was not qualified for) before the director told her not to call again.
    She didn’t get the job. Any of them.

    1. LQ

      I’d vote no if you are presenting. I had a couple interviews where I had to set up and give presentations. I got there about 25 minutes early to check technology, etc. Which seemed good because at one of them it failed and I had to go with the backup’s backup. (Which was the thing that impressed them into offering me the job, but made me turn it down because no one there had any idea how to resolve either of the first two fairly basic problems.)

      But for anything else yes. And the presenting would only be if it is pretty unusual or likely to have a tech failure. In my own office I’d never show up more than 5 minutes early even if I was presenting.

  19. Brett

    I could use some advice from the interviewer end on this…
    We do a lot of phone interviews, and without body language, it is difficult to communicate to someone to stop elaborating on an answer. What would be an effective to provide time cues when you cannot use body language?

    I’ve had a few interviews where the interviewee spent 10 minutes of a 30 minute interview going too deep in details on one question. Not only does this hurt them, but they end up with no time to ask their own questions.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I set time cues at the very start — “this will take about 30 minutes. I have a bunch of questions about your background and X and Y, and I also want to leave time for any questions you have as well.” If they start off with a 10-minute answer right after that, that’s a red flag for me.

      But I do think it’s okay to cut in when someone is going on and on — I’ll sometimes say, “I’m sorry to jump in, but I want to make sure we have time to get through all my questions and you have time for your own.”

      But they’re giving you data about how they communicate, and you want to pay attention to that too.

  20. Moomin Marvellous

    I cancelled an interview that was arranged by a recruitment consultant as I had another job. I was talking a friend who works in recruitment and telling her I felt bad. She said actually most people just no-show. Way to burn bridges – why would I do that when I might want to apply again in future?!

  21. LibraryChick

    I had a panel interview recently where only three out of the four people present asked me questions. When they were done, I was asked if I had any questions. I turned toward the person who had not said anything and said, “You haven’t asked any questions. Is there anything you would like to ask?” I was later told that this scored big marks with the rest of the people on the panel.

  22. Jack the Treacle Eater

    I went to an interview recently that threw up a couple of issues I’d appreciate some pointers on. In particular, I ended up with interviewers to each side, and one interviewer asking the bulk of the questions, which made it difficult not to either ignore the other interviewer or be whipping back and forth like someone watching a tennis match. To make things worse, the ‘silent’ interviewer was the hiring manager.

    I felt bad about this at the time, but didn’t know what I could do other than suggest we sat differently (which I wasn’t brave enough to do); I still feel bad about it now, and have half a mind to email the interviewer and apologise. I’d be interested to hear any thoughts.

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