There are some characteristics interviewers don't want to see.
We all know that the job interview is important ‒ it's the first chance for the employer to get a better idea of who you are (and vice versa). Still, TopCV wanted to know more about what HR managers really think about the interview process. In September 2019, we teamed up with CV-Library and learnt that 77 per cent of employers considers 'personality' as one of the three most important factors when selecting a candidate. Since that's what's tested in the interview, success in this 'getting to know you' activity is essential.
TopCV and CV-Library also enquired about which traits are most attractive in job seekers – and which are the biggest turnoffs. Coupled with guidance from TopCV careers expert Amanda Augustine, we've outlined the top five characteristics identified as personality 'deal-breakers' for HR managers.
Whether you're interviewing or dating, confidence is always an attractive quality. Be careful how far you take that confidence, though; arrogance was the most offensive personality trait for HR managers, with 65 per cent calling it a 'deal-breaker'. It makes sense, too ‒ no one wants to work with someone who thinks they know it all.
'When given the opportunity to share your accomplishments, focus on fact-based specifics like numbers and percentages, not grandiose adjectives like “great” and “impressive”', says Augustine. '“I led the team to finish our project £100K under budget” sounds much better than “I saved the company a lot of money.”'
Additionally, don't shy away from questions that may make you feel vulnerable. To show your ability to learn, demonstrate personal growth with your answers to 'failure' and 'weakness'-style questions.
In any workplace, honesty is key for building positive relationships and effective collaboration. That is likely the reason that 62 per cent of HR managers identified dishonesty as a personality turn-off for job candidates. Simply put, a potential supervisor wants to know that you will be honest about the work you do.
Fortunately, it's easy to prevent suspicion that you may be a dishonest person ‒ just keep it truthful. Of course you want to show your best self, and there's nothing wrong with curating your CV and interview responses to do just that. What's important is that as you do so, you don't turn to over-exaggeration. 'Embellishing your past will likely result in communicating falsities,' Augustine warns. 'And if an HR manager finds out that you were dishonest about your accomplishments, it could easily be the end of your candidacy.'
Reliability is related to trust, and there may be nothing more important for a productive workplace than being able to rely on your co-workers, supervisors and subordinates. Therefore, it's not surprising that 60 per cent of HR managers called unreliability in a candidate another interview deal-breaker.
To prove your reliability, it's important to remember that actions speak louder than words. Meaning, it's how you behave in the time surrounding your interview that will show you can be counted on. As you communicate with the HR manager to set up your interview ‒ likely via email ‒ be sure to respond in a timely manner. On the actual day of the interview, come prepared with extensive research and do whatever you need to ensure you turn up for the meeting on time. Augustine puts it well: 'It's not just about saying “I'm reliable!” ‒ you need to give the HR manager reason to think so on their own.'
Creativity and a willingness to try new things are valuable skills in the workplace. That may be why 26 per cent of HR managers agree that close-mindedness in an interviewee is a significant offence. After all, who would want to work with someone who dismisses innovative thinking?
The best way to display open-mindedness in an interview is through the questions you ask at the end. According to Augustine, 'Use the research you've done to make informed enquiries about processes or motivations that are specific to the company, and be receptive and enthusiastic when you receive your response. Showing your willingness to learn about new places and ideas will offset any concerns that you may be close-minded.'
It may be difficult to gauge a stranger's moral compass in a 30–60-minute meeting, but that doesn't mean interviewers won't make assumptions. Twenty-four per cent of HR managers identified immorality as a personality trait that could ruin a candidate's chances. Corruption is a genuine concern in many workplaces, and an employer would likely want to do their best to eliminate worry by rejecting any candidate who seems suspect.
'These judgments may come from indiscretions in your past, especially if you were ever terminated for wrongful behaviour,' says Augustine. 'However, if you don't have anything damning on your professional permanent record, don't assume you're off the hook ‒ because what an employer uncovers during their social media check can have just as much of an effect as a past lapse in your workplace ethics.'
As part of your job-search preparation, take a close look through all of your social media profiles. Can any negative assumptions be made about you through what you've shared? Can anything you've said be misconstrued by someone who doesn't know you? Delete any posts that could raise eyebrows (or at least adjust your privacy settings so an HR manager can't find them).
Be your ideal co-worker
Hiring a new employee is a big decision for any HR manager, so they will take care to find the right person for the team. Understandably, that will mean rejecting those with characteristics they don't want to introduce to their workplace. This doesn't have to happen to you though. If you consistently act like the co-worker you would want to have, you'll have no trouble making the right impression.
Presenting yourself well on your CV is important too. Find out what kind of impression you make by submitting for a free CV critique.