Secrets Of The Interview Process: My Pet Peeves

By Jeff Baum | @jeffbaum71 | Associate Director of Services at Hanapin Marketing

Editor’s Note: This week on PPC Hero, we’ll be writing about the interview process and how to find the right candidates. Some posts will be highly specific to PPC roles while others will be general hiring tips. Make sure to tweet us your comments @ppchero. Jeff Baum begins the week with a look at his pet peeves when interviewing candidates.


One of my primary roles as an Associate Director of Services at Hanapin is interviewing candidates for employment. The quality of employee we hire directly impacts the organization’s success. Therefore, it takes a ton of time to identify, recruit, and interview the best possible job candidates.


During the interview we obviously ask a lot of questions to determines a candidate’s skill set, overall ability to do the job, and whether or not they would be a good cultural fit. We can learn a lot from the standard question and answer process.


However, not everything is learned from just asking questions. There are things that I look for outside of the normal question and answer process that helps me determine if someone is serious about becoming the next Hanapin employee.


Through my interviewing experiences, I’ve developed a set of pet peeves that turn me off to a job candidate. Let’s discuss my disqualifying pet peeves and what can be done to prevent you from making those same mistakes while giving yourself a leg up in the interview process.


Pet Peeve #1: Not Dressing For Success


It’s a turn off when people don’t dress properly for an interview. Maybe I’m old school but I’m a believer in dressing for success. Even if the company you’re interviewing at has a casual work environment, the interview is not the right time to dress down. The interview is a time to impress your potential employer. When a candidate does not dress up for an interview it demonstrates to me:


  • A lack of attention to detail
  • Lack of pride in your work
  • Disregard for proper preparation


Bottom line, if you can’t show enough pride in yourself to dress properly for a job interview, how can I trust you’ll show enough pride to turn out quality work that moves the company forward?


I recommend erring on the side of overdressing. If you’re a male wear a suit. If you’re a female wear a pantsuit or conservative skirt. If you dress professionally, your showing respect and projecting to others that you want to be taken seriously. Optics are important and I’ve found it difficult to take a person seriously for a position if they aren’t dressed for success regardless of how well they answer my questions.


Pet Peeve #2: Not Asking Questions


This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Not asking questions demonstrates a lack of engagement or interest. During an interview, a lot of ground is covered in a relatively short period of time. For that fact alone interviewees should have clarifying questions they want to ask about the job.


We also live in the information age. With a minimal amount of time commitment, it’s easy to research information about the company you’re interviewing with. From all of the information that can be found, there’s no reason why a candidate can’t come up with 3-5 seed questions.


Asking questions are important. Asking questions shows your interest in the position, demonstrates your preparation skills, and that you’re knowledgeable about the company. Ask questions geared around whom you are interviewing with. For instance, if interviewing with human resources, ask questions about the organization’s culture. When interviewing with the hiring manager ask probing questions to find out more about your potential boss’s management style. I also like to ask questions geared at finding out how to best make my potential boss’s job easier. Below are some sample questions I’ve asked during interviews I’ve been on throughout my career.


  • What is your management style like?
  • What does a successful employee look like to you?
  • How can I make your job easier and make you look good?
  • What are the specific job duties of the position?
  • How can I best contribute to the team?


The quickest way to lose during a job interview is to not ask questions. If I have two candidates of equal ability, I will always choose the candidate that demonstrates an interest in the job and demonstrates a high level of engagement and enthusiasm.


Use the opportunity to ask questions to learn as much as possible about the employer you will potentially work for. Showing that level of interest can mean the difference between getting and not getting the job.


Pet Peeve #3: Not Showing Proper Respect


Not showing proper respect is one of the quickest ways of getting a negative recommendation for pushing your job candidacy forward. From my experience, being disrespectful has come in some very subtle forms. Here’s what I determine as being disrespectful.


  • Improper posture such as slouching in the chair
  • Peeking at your phone during an interview
  • Interrupting or talking over the interviewer
  • Not directly answering the questions being asked of you
  • Not maintaining proper eye contact


When I don’t see proper respect given during an interview it naturally leads me to wonder whether or not if hired, the candidate would show proper respect to peers or clients.


Show proper respect to the person interviewing you by eliminating distractions, being an active listener, and clearly answering the questions being asked of you.


Final Thoughts


If you want to successfully navigate the interview process and receive a job offer, demonstrate you’re serious about wanting the job. The candidates you’re competing against usually have similar skill sets and experiences. Avoid my pet peeves and you’ll be on the road towards getting hired at an organization where you’ll have the chance to take your career to the next level.