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The 10 Things You Do That Turn an Interviewer Off

Jada A. Graves

Pay attention.

We asked hiring managers and career experts what behaviors could potentially sway them against a candidate during a job interview. You might be surprised by the subconscious things that could ultimately cost you the offer.

Being ill-prepared.

"A candidate walking in with a cellphone in hand and checking it throughout the interview. Another indicator is when they arrive late and say they got caught in traffic. It shows they didn't do their homework. And not asking questions. A candidate who shows up ill-prepared without questions sends the message they are not very interested or have not put much effort into preparation for the interview."

-Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert

Neglecting the details.

"I always want to see the heels of a candidate's shoes -- most people drive and have scuffed right heels -- not polishing shoes shows a lack of attention to detail and self-respect. Also cleanliness, because it is a signal of self-worth. And the follow-up email/letter -- because it is written in relative haste and is a more accurate demonstration of written communication skills and further demonstrates a degree of understanding for the job's challenges."

-Martin Yate, author of "Knock 'em Dead Social Networking: For Job Search and Professional Success"

Focusing on job security and not job duties.

"I'll always ask candidates what they're looking for in a job, and a few times, I've gotten [the notion of job security] as part of the answer. I don't have that to give -- you're secure when you do the job well and clients or metrics are happy. I worry that anyone who's looking for a boss who protects them could be looking for a place to phone it in."

-Sean Tucker, managing editor of the American Academy of Actuaries in the District of Columbia

Asking the wrong questions at the wrong time.

"Asking too many questions about money or title too early. HubSpot is getting bigger, but we are still a startup. Everyone from our C-suite on down does whatever it takes for our company to succeed. If you're so concerned about what your title is before you even start, you're likely not willing to roll up your sleeves when the going gets tough."

-Katie Burke, spokeswoman for the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based marketing platform HubSpot

Displaying limited emotional intelligence.

"We have a very different approach to hiring at Menlo. The main thing we look for are good kindergarten skills. Do you play well with others? Do you share? Can you think out loud? For me personally, do you smile and make eye contact?"

-Rich Sheridan, CEO and chief storyteller of Menlo Innovations, a software design firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Being elitist.

"I am immediately put off if the candidate is rude or abrupt to administrative staff or other junior-level folks. That is a sign of their true character and also of things to come."

-Alexandra Levit, author of "Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can't Afford to Believe"

Failing to clean up after yourself.

"Let's say you were offered a glass of water. At the end of the interview, you get up and just leave your napkin or glass sitting there without a second thought. Instead, pick up your leftovers, and ask your interviewer, 'Where can I put this?' They'll likely say, 'Oh, just leave it there.' But you demonstrate thoughtfulness and good manners, and appear to be someone who won't make more work for them -- the kind of person they want to surround themselves with."

-Andrea Kay, author of "This Is How to Get Your New Job: An Inside Look at What Employers Really Want"

Being a negative Nancy.

"We spend more time at work than at home with family and friends. Therefore, we need to enjoy our time at the office. We screen out negative candidates who speak disparagingly about former organizations, colleagues or leaders. Negativity is contagious -- like a cold. Positive thinking is contagious, too, so we encourage clients to hire talent who bring a positive outlook to their work environment."

-Jaime Klein, founder of Inspire Human Resources, a New York-based HR consulting firm

Showcasing all-around rudeness.

"They vary by the situation. ... I asked one candidate to tell me a little about his work history. He launched into a monologue that continued for almost 25 minutes and resisted every attempt I made to interrupt. I took another candidate out to lunch. She ate with her mouth open, picked her teeth with a compact and a toothpick, ordered dessert and two coffees to go and put them on my bill. She explained they were 'for the road.'"

-Susan Heathfield, management consultant, co-owner of TechSmith Corporation and writer for the human resources section of About.com

Forgetting to send a thank-you note.

"Not sending a thank-you note is unacceptable. I also found it unacceptable when the candidate: 1) Didn't give a firm handshake, 2) didn't show the least bit of enthusiasm/moxie, which ties into 3) didn't have a single question to ask about the job expectations or the company."

-Emily Miller, former branch manager with Anheuser-Busch Employees' Credit Union

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