Job Haunting: 5 Ways Candidates Scare Hiring Managers

When it comes to scare tactics, ghouls and goblins have nothing on some job seekers. Here at Healthcare IT Leaders, we see many candidates with bewitching resumes who end up spooking prospective employers with their monster-like behavior during the hiring process.

So in honor of Halloween, we’ve outlined five nightmarish candidate traits that make hiring managers scream and run in the other direction.

Acting like a Zombie

When interviewing, don’t leave any doubts as to whether you have a pulse. Interviewers don’t expect everyone to be a “Type-A” personality, but attentive, energetic candidates are preferable to those that walk the earth like the living dead. Show enthusiasm for the job that you’re being considered for and come prepared to give at least one example (using the S-T-A-R method) of something you’re passionate about, like being part of a team or solving a difficult technical challenge.

Howling about Past Jobs

If you hated your old co-workers or thought your last employer was incompetent, just keep it to yourself.  When candidates engage in werewolf-like howling about perceived injustices or the faults of others, they get tagged as complainers who are apt to cause problems. And why does an employer want to hire someone who is difficult to work with?  Exactly. They don’t.

Listing Graveyard References

Is your list of professional references a graveyard of wrong numbers, invalid email addresses, and former bosses who have long passed from a prior workplace?  If so, you may be digging your own grave (as it relates to your job chances). Strong candidates maintain a list of recent and reference-ready colleagues and supervisors (along with their current contact information), so that hiring managers can quickly confirm employment history and learn about all your work history. Because your references can move or change contact information, invite them to your LinkedIN network, so you can direct message them as needed and have visibility into when and if they change jobs.

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Relying on Robotic Resumes

AI-generated resumes don't always compute. For starters, Artificial Intelligence engines don't have knowledge of your unique skills, qualifications, and accomplishments. If you rely on AI exclusively, your resume can come off as generic and, well, robotic. That said, we're a big fan of AI to refine your original draft through  proofreading and suggestions that strengthen your resume. But only you can tell your career story, so don't forgo the human touch.

Ghosting an Interview

Have you ever agreed to a phone or in-person job interview and then pulled a no-show?  Boooooooo! This unfortunate trend, called "Ghosting" is a sure way to lose a job and burn a bridge (or two or three) in the process. If you need to or want to back out of a scheduled interview, be forthright and communicate your reasons to the hiring manager and/or your recruiter.

Consider yourself warned. By avoiding the scary behaviors above, your next job haunt (er, hunt) should be a treat!

Originally published Oct 2013; updated Oct 2023