Job Search Tips

21 Unprofessional Habits That Will Keep You From Getting The Job

Written by Peter Jones

We all have our bad habits. And the world of getting and holding down a job is hard enough without them seeping in to sabotage us. Here are 21 of the most unprofessional habits you should break to make sure your job-getting (or keeping) is never in jeopardy.

1. Sloppiness

Don’t let careless grammar or spelling mistakes affect your future. Proofread everything you do—from your resume to your performance review. You don’t want your work thrown out before it’s even read!

2. Lack of Preparation

Do your homework, particularly for the job interview. Show you are self-starting enough to realize what preparation is appropriate and necessary to get the job done. Getting this right shows you understand the responsibilities involved in everything you sign up for.

3. Trying too Hard to Get Attention

Let your resume stand out because of its content and your merits, not because of fancy formatting or fonts—or worse, colorful paper.

4. Your Vices (Right Pre-Interview)

Smoking and drinking may seem innocuous to you, but your interviewer (and your boss) will be able to smell both on you, and neither show you in a favorable light.

5. Bad Hygiene

Just shower before every job interview. Just do. And probably also before every shift you work.

6. Lateness

Lateness is a very bad habit in general, but before a job interview it can be a death knell. Plan to be 15 minutes early; the worst case scenario will leave you time to pee and check your appearance before walking in.

7. Texting

While you’re waiting for your interview (you’re early! good job!), do your best not to spend that extra time texting. This makes you look bored. Try a magazine instead—or a company brochure.

8. Public Grooming

Grooming is important, but keep it to the restroom. Don’t touch up your makeup or comb your hair—or worse, put on deodorant—in public or in the waiting room.

9. Overpacking

Leave your latte, your water bottle, your gym bag, and maybe even your telephone in your car. Walk in with your resume, your portfolio, and perhaps a briefcase, but nothing else.

10. Overly Casual Attire

Dressing down is never a good idea. Dress for the job you want—not the one you have, or even the one you’re applying for. This can be tricky; the last thing you want to do is err too far on the side of formal, but do try to strike the balance (or risk looking unprofessional).

11. Speaking Before You Think

From the moment you walk in and introduce yourself to the receptionist, you need to be careful what you say. Every word out of your mouth in the interview process will be judged—and should be. Speak accordingly.

12. Informality

This doesn’t mean being super cordial and speaking like Shakespeare. But it does mean not leading with “Yo!” when your interviewer introduces herself.

13. A Bad Attitude

Avoid arrogance, project self-confidence, and do not, whatever you do, bad mouth former employers, companies, or your former boss. Stay positive and get a positive reaction.

14. TMI

You’re there to convince the company you’re the perfect person for that job. You want to give them a sense of who you are, but there is a line. Don’t cross it and veer too far into oversharing.

15. Shyness

Humility is great. And arrogance is awful. But do try your best to mask your shyness and timidity. You don’t want anyone thinking you’re too meek and won’t be able to contribute effectively to the team.

16. Cursing

Just don’t. There is no place for swear words or foul language in the interview—or in the workplace.

17. Interrupting

Whatever you have to say can wait. Let your interviewer at least finish their sentence first before you speak.

18. Fibbing

Even a little embellishing here and there is unwise. Chances are, your interviewer will look into your background and you will get caught. That’s the job lost. Stick to the facts, but present them at their best.

19. Bad Body Language

It’s important to say the right thing, but even if you do, you could still derail the proceedings with hostile, bored, or shifty body language. Don’t forget what your hands, head, and legs are doing while you’re speaking.

20. Overeagerness

No matter how much you want the job—and it is important to convey that—do your best not to appear too eager. I.e., don’t ask “So did I get the job?” or “Did I do okay?”

21. Lack of Graciousness

Follow up. Write a thank you note immediately after your interview– handwritten if possible. Even if you don’t think it went well, it’s important to be gracious and say thank you like a grown up.

About the author

Peter Jones