3 Sneaky Factors that Can Turn a Hiring Manager Off

bad candidate turning a hiring manager off

But I did everything right!”

That’s a refrain I hear all the time from jobseekers. They went in to meet with a hiring manager, thoroughly prepared. They smiled. They answered every question, And then…nothing.

Which begs the question, “Did I turn this person off somehow?”

Remember: a great interview IS NOT about perfection! It’s about honestly trying to demonstrate value and address concerns. If you forget this, then a meeting can derail very quickly.

Here are 3 big factors to avoid that can turn a hiring manager off:

 #1) No Agenda.

 An interview shouldn’t start with you sliding over a copy of your resume and waiting to answer a question. It should start by giving the hiring manager a quick breakdown of where you see the company’s current/future objectives, and then lead into 1-3 major areas where you can apply your experience and talents towards helping them attain it.

Here’s the beauty of this approach: if you’re right, then it’s easy for a hiring manager to respond with some detailed insights into what’s going on behind the scenes…and then you’re off to the races and having something that feels like a working meeting.

But even if you’re completely wrong, you still showed unique value and a genuine desire to come to the table with SOMETHING…and that’s a huge contributor to a successful meeting. Just be sure to keep asking questions about what’s really going on, and to dynamically adjust your agenda towards hitting those pain points (and your ability to solve them) over and over again.

Also read: Getting Ghosted: What if a Potential Employer Stops Responding to Me?

 #2) Clashing with their Representational Style.

 I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of active listening during an interview. But have you ever wondered why that’s important?

It’s so we can hone in on the unique way the person facing us sees the world…and tailor our delivery accordingly.

Let’s say you’re breaking the ice with a hiring manager and notice that he constantly describes things visually. When it’s time to answer a question or share a story from your career, think in terms of painting a picture- use a whiteboard if it’s available and really draw this person in. By playing to their representational style, you MAXIMIZE the odds of successful communication.

The opposite is also true. If you’re meeting with someone who perceives the world in a fundamentally AUDITORY way, then he will pick his words extremely carefully. You can’t immediately launch into a stunning big picture presentation that’s fast-and-loose with details because it’s too much! Rather, scale it down and make sure you take an extra moment to make sure what you’re laying out there is completely accurate.

Also read: Why Are Employers Taking So Long to Hire Me?

 #3) Being Dismissive of Concerns.

There’s a big difference between treating a concern as gospel and dismissing it outright! Of course you want to control how this topic is addressed- just do it with a sense of modulation and respect.

Start by thanking the hiring manager for bringing this up and giving you a chance to chime in. Next, you can either pivot to GOING DEEP or DRAWING A PARALLEL.

Go Deep: Let’s say you’re pressed about the fact that the position requires leading a large, globally dispersed team…and you’ve never led more than a handful of people. By focusing on your ability to LEAD during critical moments (not the scale of the leadership) and sharing a story around that, you can in many cases put the concern to bed (or at least mitigate it).

Draw a Parallel: Let’s say you’re questioned about a lack of experience in implementing TECHNOLOGY X within facilities…but you’ve managed a similar kind of initiative within a completely different context. First, ACKNOWLEDGE the lack of experience with the technology so it’s clear that you’re not just trying to dodge the assertion. Next, share a story about this parallel initiative, making sure to focus on CONTEXT and IMPACT over excessive details.

A great meeting with a hiring manager can truly put you on the fast track to an offer. Go the extra mile to make this person an ally!

About the Author

Anish Majumdar is a nationally recognized Career Coach, Personal Branding Expert, and a fierce advocate for transitioning leaders. His posts and videos on disrupting the "normal rules" of job searching and getting ahead reach a combined audience of 30M professionals every month. Go down the rabbit hole of Anish’s career videos at, and connect with him on LinkedIn to receive daily career tips and advice.