When you’re going through the interview process or in the first few months of your new job, anxiety runs high. Not only do you want to make a stellar first impression but you want to go above-and-beyond to reassure the hiring manager that you’re the right fit for the opportunity. No matter where you are on the corporate ladder, there are certain truths about social interactions that are universal. And most of them center on what you should never, ever do in front of a superior.

In fact, some habits — whether intentional or bore out of nerves — can send the wrong signals. Here, eight bosses who hire (and ahem, fire) all the time share what leaves a terrible taste in their mouth:

Interrupting – or talking over — others

“There are few things that leave a bad impression on me more than people who interrupt or talk over others in a meeting or interview. If I’m in the middle of saying something, I’m happy to know you are interested and excited enough to speak up, but it shows a lack of respect to others in the room when you don’t let them finish their thought before jumping in. There is a fine line to walk between confidence and arrogance, and speaking over others is like jumping head first over that line,” — Devaraj Southworth, cofounder and CEO of Thirstie.

Avoiding eye contact

“If we’re in conversation — whether in an interview, meeting, or just in on-the-job functions — wandering eyes leave me with a sense that the other person is detached and not present. With all the time we spend in front of screens, I really hold face-to-face conversations as almost-sacred,” — Jess Hilbert, Founder of Red Duck Foods.


“The biggest red flag in any job interview — or just in general human communication — is when someone bad mouths or criticizes their former employer strongly. When interviewing, I tend to dive into any candidate’s work history. On several occasions, the applicant starts to explain their departure from their previous workplace by talking negatively about bad managers or toxic work culture. In my experience, this usually reveals more about the candidate than it does about their former workplace,” — Thor Fridriksson, Co-founder and CEO of Teatime Games.

Not giving your full attention

“Something we all have to remember is that one of our most precious assets in life is time, and if someone else is giving us their time, we should be respect that agreement. To avoid making bad impressions, always make it a point to engage with whoever you’re speaking with, whether a meeting or an interview, ensure they know you are actively listening through questions and body language. Personally, I find people that are distracted or not fully present in meetings unprofessional, and eventually, this habit can prevent you from finding success in business,” — Giorgos Tsetis, co-founder and CEO of Nutrafol.

The inability to adapt

“One of the things I encountered that stung me and will stay with me going forward involves change management. People can have a very negative reaction to ‘new’ things including a new manager introducing new approaches to the tasks at hand. The rub is that introducing a new way of tackling an old problem is perceived by some to mean that the way they had been doing it is ‘wrong.’ These people may then work against management from the very start without giving the ‘new’ a chance. While it may be somewhat disconcerting to learn that something you’ve been doing a certain way for quite some time, something you may have devised yourself, is going to be revamped, there should also be a general understanding that progress includes moving forward, iterating, changing, creating new pathways, different aha moments. Change should instead be viewed as an exciting time where you get to think outside the box again and spread your creative wings,” — Diana Liberto, CEO & founder of WalkMyMind, Co.

Asking for pity

“If you really want to rub your boss the wrong way, just tell her about your personal expenses in an attempt to get a raise. The one way you can guarantee you will not get an increase in your pay packet is by explaining you need one because of the cost of your rent, your car, your kid’s school, or the fact your spouse isn’t working right now. Most employees wrongly assuming their bill have something to do with their paycheck. As a boss, however, salaries correspond with revenue, not expenses. It shows a massive misunderstanding of the job anyone in charge of hiring and promotions has to do when you share your personal costs. Want a raise? Show me how you are contributing to the bottom line in cost savings or additional revenue. Show me you understand my challenge, before you expect me to care about yours,” — Angela Lauria, founder of The Author Incubator.

Not asking questions

“One of the biggest things an applicant can do to leave a bad taste in my mouth is to say ‘no’ when I ask if you have any questions for me. It’s imperative to look engaged and enthusiastic in a job interview. If you are not well-prepared to ask some questions, you give off the vibe that you don’t really care about the opportunity being presented to you. Interviewing is a two-way street and you want to be sure that the job is just as perfect of a fit for you as you are for the job. Avoid asking ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions and lean towards asking questions that provide insightful answers such as, ‘How do you see the company evolving in the next five years’ or ‘What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?” — Heather Marianna, CEO of Beauty Kitchen.

Not doing your research

I find it really off-putting when a candidate comes to an interview and has done zero research on us as a company. This shows me that they’re simply looking for a paycheck and don’t necessarily support our values and mission, which is obviously very important to me. We’ve unfortunately made the mistake of hiring someone who did this, and we quickly realized that they were not a great fit for the position or the team. Needless to say, they didn’t last long. So, my advice to job-seekers would be to really dig in and study up. It will show your enthusiasm for the organization and field, as well as allow you to articulate how your skills can be a match,” — Amy Lacey of Cali’flour Foods.

Originally published on The Ladders.

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