Biggest Post-Interview Dealbreakers

Peg Newman, a Partner at Sanford Rose Associates, an executive search firm, described the strangest post-interview deal breaker she’s encountered. She thought she was hiring a talented engineer who matched the skills and requirements of the job.

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“During the offer phase the candidate provided a copy of his college diploma and his professional engineering registries,” says Newman. “When it came to final third party verification, which required his Social Security number, he refused to give it.”

Red flag.

Newman continued: “Upon further verification we found he had used other engineers’ license numbers on the resume, and had dummied up the college diploma/degree. We rescinded the offer with a phone call and a letter.”

HR professionals, recruiters, hiring managers and small business owners all have stories to share about those post-interview deal breakers – quirky, weird, or unprofessional things candidates did after an interview or after a job offer.

Karen A. Young is the author of Stop Knocking on My Door – Drama Free HR to Help Grow Your Business. Eleven years ago she started HR Resolutions, a full-service HR consulting company serving clients in Harrisburg, Lancaster and York, PA. She lists some of her biggest post interview or job offer deal breakers:

1. Not disclosing something in your background check: “Tell me BEFORE so that I’m prepared and can discuss the implications/complications in advance,” says Young.

2. Disclosing needed vacation time after the offer: Telling the employer about all the vacation time you need after an offer is extended is no-no, says Young. Reasonable time off requests are expected when someone is changing positions BUT…be reasonable!

3. Falsification of pre-employment/post-offer paper work “In my professional opinion, there is no recovery from this,” says Young.

4. Badmouthing current or former employers: This is a major post-interview deal breaker. “Posting inappropriate things on social media like “I took this job even though they stink as an employer just so I could get a paycheck again” is a surefire deal breaker.

Samantha Lambert, Director of Human Resources for Blue Fountain Media, lists her post post-interview deal breakers – and how to handle them:

1. Deal Breaker: Salary requirements change after interview: Set expectations from the get-go. Reiterate the salary range to the candidate in each interview round, otherwise you are wasting their time and company time.

2. Deal Breaker: Not authorized to work in the US/need sponsorship outside of USCIS timeline. If your company is not in a position to sponsor VISAS, let the candidate know and be clear that it is no reflection of their skill set. If your company does sponsor, but it is outside the timeline, you should ask if you can follow-up once the applicable window to file presents itself (i.e. April for h1-b)

3. Deal breaker: References do not check out or a bad reference is reported: Set up a time to speak with the candidate to talk through the negative reference or feedback received as you never know why or what happened. Give the individual the benefit of the doubt.

Newman lets candidates know that upon offer and acceptance, and once they have given notice to their current company, a final reference will be required.

“Good people understand that companies have a process for employment, education and related certifications and licenses,” says Newman. “So they are generally pretty forthcoming.”

Employers who need to rescind an offer should include a ‘back-out’ clause in the offer letter.  Say something like this, says Newman:

“This offer is contingent upon satisfactory completion of a drug screen, background check and reference check. If any of the information provided proves to be false or inaccurate – the offer may be rescinded at our discretion.”

When you have to rescind an offer – be brief and specific, says Newman. “Unfortunately because of X we are going to pull the offer.”

Post interview deal breakers are a major bummer. But it’s part of the quirky world of hiring.

What’s your biggest post-interview or job offer deal breaker?

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Matt Krumrie is a career columnist and professional resume writer who has been providing helpful information and resources for job seekers and employers for 15+ years. Learn more about Krumrie via, connect with him on LinkedIn ( and follow him on Twitter via @MattKrumrie.

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