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Survey Says: Employee Deal Breakers to Avoid

Sam Spano

The hiring process can be complicated. Some open roles receive up to 250 applicants. You’ve narrowed down your candidate pool. You think you have what you’re looking for on paper. Now it’s time to meet these applicants face to face.

Have you been on the brink of hiring a top-talent employee only to discover s/he was dishonest in their application? Have you ever personally encountered a right-fit candidate who dressed inappropriately for an interview? In these instances, it can be hard to determine whether or not to hire the individual.

We surveyed over 500 hiring professionals from across the country of varying ages and income levels to discover what are truly employer deal breakers in the hiring process. These results give us insights into deal-breakers that haven’t changed in the past 50+ years, to those that show that many companies are starting to think more progressively.

Non-Deal Breakers

Let’s take a look at some candidate qualities that are considered non employer deal breakers. Survey respondents said that they would still hire a job seeker even if the candidate…

  • Had visible tattoo ink – 82 percent said yes.
  • Was late to the interview or had to reschedule at the last minute – 53 percent said yes.
  • Didn’t ask any questions of their own – 56 percent said yes.
  • Failed to send a thank-you note following the interview – 83 percent said yes.

Deal Breakers

And for deal breakers? Survey respondents said they would not hire an applicant if the candidate…

  • Appears arrogant – 76 percent said no.
  • Bad-mouths the previous employer or employers – 81 percent said no.
  • Dresses inappropriately for the interview – 71 percent said no.
  • Uses their cell phone during the interview – 90 percent said no.
  • Lies on their resume – 90 percent said no.
  • Is not authorized to work in the U.S. – 86 percent said no.

Being unauthorized to work in the United States and having poor personal hygiene were found to be among the two biggest deal breakers for potential hires. And for those who just can’t seem to disconnect? Spending time on a personal device during the interview process seemed to be an almost immediate disqualifier, no matter how skilled the candidate. It’s also important to note that candidates caught falsifying something on a document during the application process were less likely to be considered for the role, according to the survey.

Mixed Feelings

In the scenario that a candidate failed to bring a cover letter or resume to the interview, the results on whether or not they would be hired were split nearly down the middle: 255 respondents said they would still consider the applicant, while 248 reported they would not. Another situation that resulted in evenly mixed responses was in the case that a qualified applicant appears over-interested in compensation compared to the overall job duties and company commitment.

An Evolving Process

The survey provided great insights into how the interview process is evolving. Contrary to popular belief, sending a thank-you note post-interview may not carry quite as much weight as it did traditionally. The same goes for tattoos – visible ink isn’t considered as taboo as it once was, especially with almost 1 in 5 adults having tattoos or piercings these days. As time goes on and employers adjust to trends, technology, and new standards, it will be interesting to watch how industry hiring and interview processes also pivot. What is considered a deal-breaker at your company?


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