Job Hunters’ Pet Peeves – Employers, Take Heed

by Kelli Mason

Layoffs have surged over the past year, causing an increase in job hunting. As this hunt is the reality for many Americans, the system of applying for a new job is hardly seamless, even when done online. From hard-to-navigate online job portals to being ghosted by an employer, many candidates have job-hunting pet peeves that make the process difficult.

JobSage was interested to know the biggest pet peeves on both sides of the interview — the employer and the potential employee — to help both navigate the process better. So they conducted a survey of 1,000 full-time employed Americans and 400 with hiring experience.

So, what turns candidates off from applying for a job based on its description alone? The biggest red flag was requiring multiple years of experience for an entry-level position. Applicants also take notice when salary information is not included, or they find obvious spelling or grammatical errors. Additionally, they said that specific phrases like “fast-paced” included in job descriptions raise work-life balance alarm bells.

When it comes to online applications, 51% of survey respondents said the process takes too long. Three major pet peeves in the application process are difficulty with online job portals (71%), unclear job descriptions when it comes to role responsibilities (64%) and requiring cover letters (61%).

Now to the interviews themselves. Major interview pet peeves for candidates include learning the job description doesn’t match the role, and when an interviewer is late, misses the interview, or reschedules at the last minute. Requiring more than three interview rounds is also frustrating for applicants.

With video calls being commonplace today, employers said there are some behaviors during this step that create a negative impression on their side. At the interview stage, being inappropriately groomed or dressed and giving unfocused answers to questions can seriously hurt an applicant’s chances of getting a job, as can talking negatively about former employers or forgetting to research the company beforehand. Hiring managers don’t want applicants to be overly flattering, either.

In conclusion, there is room for improvement at each stage of the interview process, and those improvements will help professionals authentically connect.  

Job Description Red Flags

Multiple years of experience required for entry-level position 32%
Salary information not included 28%
Spelling or grammar errors 24%
Company culture described as “fun” or a “family” 10%
Benefits or time off not mentioned 6%

Job Description Phrases That Make Applicants Concerned about Work-Life Balance

“Fast-paced environment” 20%
“Work hard, play hard” 19%
“Above and beyond” 19%
“Start-up mentality” 18%
“Competitive” 9%
“Self-starter” 8%
“Flexible” 7%

Job Description Words That Annoy Applicants

“Rockstar” 47%
“Ninja” 19%
“Guru” 17%
“Nerd” 11%
“Wizard” 6%

Biggest Online Job Application Pet Peeves

Salary information not included 86%
Manually typing in what is already on résumé 84%
Online portal difficult to use 71%
Job description unclear about role 64%
Cover letter required 61%

Biggest Job Interview Pet Peeves

Getting ghosted 85%
Job description doesn’t match role 84%
Interviewer misses interview 82%
Three-plus interview rounds required 79%
Interviewer rescheduling last minute 74%

Source: JobSage

Kelli Mason, co-founder of JobSage, an employer review site focused on inclusion, purpose, growth, flexibility, & feedback. The public can share their voice and help shape the future of belonging at work.

JobSage’s pet peeves report is meant to help inform both employees and employers to improve their first impressions and processes, creating a better experience for all involved.

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