Two people in an office doing a job interview, one is holding up a sign saying no which indicates he is rejecting the candidate.
Image: © Artem/

‘Sorry I’m late’: Bad job interview habits that hiring managers hate

6 Feb 2024

Got a job interview coming up? Here’s what not to do if you want to make a good impression. Unsurprisingly, the main no-no is lateness.

We all know what makes a good first impression and we all know how to appear professional – it’s common sense, right? Don’t be late, don’t be underprepared, don’t be dishevelled and don’t be rude.

However, despite our best intentions sometimes life – or traffic – gets in the way and we end up late to important work events. Being late may not seem like the worst offence compared to being rude or unkempt, but a survey of 1,200 hiring managers revealed that when it comes to job interviews, lateness is the worst sin to commit.

Late last year, tech company Ringover polled people about the job interview behaviours they despised the most. Their answers differed based on how they usually interviewed candidates. For example, phone interviewers and video interviewers had quite different pet hates.

Litany of offences

Overall, lateness was the worst offence, with nearly 36pc of respondents citing it as their biggest hiring ick. After lateness, lack of research and getting the company name wrong were the main bugbears. Other things that annoy hiring managers according to the survey are discussing personal topics, not dressing appropriately, using too many filler words such as ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ and rearranging interviews without a lot of notice.

Interestingly, 20pc of those surveyed said not asking questions at the end of an interview was their biggest red flag. A lot of hiring managers don’t seem to appreciate banter either, with a quarter saying jokesters are the worst.

In-person no-nos

Tardiness is the worst offense according to in-person interviewers, with 38pc of people highlighting it as their number one bugbear.

Avoiding eye contact and not being polite to other staff were also big turn-offs. Towards the bottom of the bad offenders list was people who asked for hot drinks containing two or more sugars – 20pc of in-person interviewers said that was the worst interview behaviour.

Other things in-person interviewers can’t stand are bad breath, overpowering perfume or cologne, bad body odour, not bringing hard copies of a resume and being unwell but still attending the interview.

Video and phone no-nos

Guess what, video interviewers despise lateness, too. Almost one-third (32pc) of those who conduct interviews on video conference calls list tardiness as their ultimate black mark. Phone interviewers seemed slightly more lenient on lateness, but they really don’t like it when candidates fail to answer the phone so don’t leave them hanging.

Other bad behaviours phone and video interviewers don’t like are largely dependent on platform etiquette. Not having your camera on, not being nicely dressed or having people or noise in the background drives video interviewers mad.

Obviously, hiring managers don’t like being interrupted, and this is something that really gets picked up on by phone interviewers. Phone interviewers also don’t like it when a candidate is clearly not in the right environment for a serious on-the-phone job interview – things like background noise, eating sounds or signs you’re distracted will definitely not impress an interviewer. Interestingly, not talking with enough authority is another reason a prospective employer might be put off. Your voice is the most important weapon you have when it comes to making a great first impression on the phone, so use it.


If you want to know how to succeed at a job interview, has lots of interview tips that you can and should follow – you can find them here.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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