By Randy Wooten

Winston Salem Journal, March 31, 2018 —

We’ve all been there. We’re interviewing for a job we think we’d enjoy, only to learn they passed on us. Was it something we did or said? It’s rare we’d ever hear an employer give us the truth. With today’s column, it’s possible you’ll see something you’ve been doing to sabotage your chances.

Time for one more look at employer pet peeves.


Fill out the job application legibly, completely, and honestly. Not only does failing to fill it out completely potentially slow down the hiring process, but it demonstrates a lack of attention to detail.

Recruiting firms operate in a “do it now” business. Their success depends on their ability to identify qualified candidates in a timely fashion. Some of their pet peeves include those incomplete applications, but also include a candidate’s failure to return phone calls/emails in a timely manner. If you’re serious about landing a job, don’t disappear. Oh, and realize you’ll have to pass a drug test.

Poor spelling, grammar, and punctuation can trip up anyone. Last time, I shared tips for locating resume typos. Take time to learn the differences between it and it’s… between their, there, and they’re… affect and effect… than and then… and others.

Work to eliminate filler words from your everyday speech. “Um, uh, ya know, like, things of that nature.” To help accomplish that, enlist the help of a family member. Give them a clicker and have them click each time you use a filler word. It’ll probably irritate you at first, but you’ll soon become more aware of your word choice.

Cover letters. Yes, you should do more than simply attach a resume. The cover letter needn’t be long and detailed, but please at least take time to change the company/job title from the letter you used to apply to the previous job.

On the resume, refrain from including a photo and personal details about your family, marital status, etc.

Now that you’re in the interview, here are some pet peeves to avoid. Let the employer finish their question. Avoid interrupting, even if you think you know what they’re asking and have a great answer lined up.

Some candidates, especially when nervous, can tend to talk too much. Don’t talk yourself out of the job. Be aware when the employer chimes in with words such as “OK, right, sure, I understand, that makes sense.” Quickly complete your thought and revisit the topic later if you feel you need to. Don’t drone on when they’re giving you verbal cues to move on.

Clichés. We’ve all used them at one time or another.

“I’m a visionary and people person who thrives on challenges where I can use my skill set to think outside the box and create a new paradigm.”

Speaking of “people person,” one of my human resource colleagues recently shared her larger concern with that term. If a people person thrives on social interaction, how well will they be able to focus when it comes to crunch time?

While it’s fine to compliment your interviewer, don’t go overboard. Genuine interest and enthusiasm are great. False praise hurts you. For those old enough to remember Leave It To Beaver, think Eddie Haskell.

No one is perfect. We do better when we have more information. I hope today’s column may have alerted you to a point or two you could change. It might end up being the difference between landing that job and getting passed over once again.

Randy Wooden is a long-time Triad career consultant and Director of Goodwill Industries of Northwest NC’s Professional Center.