32. As an Employee Will You Be High Maintenance?

There are two types of interviews I conduct:

  1. Interviews where I’m post-vetting, and giving my approval, a candidate a member of my team has interviewed and would like to hire. I’m part of the check and balance aspect of the hiring process.


  1. Interviews where the candidate will be reporting directly to me. When conducting such interviews, my goal is to determine whether the candidate fits me, my team and will be viewed by my boss as a good hire.

Whichever interview I’m conducting I have a question in the back of my head: Will this person be high maintenance?

Regarding job hunting and your career trajectory, here’s something to keep in mind: Being likeable supersedes your skills and experience. Equally important is coming across as someone who’s not difficult to work with, who won’t upset the current team dynamics and who won’t take up too much of management’s time.  

Reflect on the interviews you thought you “nailed” yet didn’t get hired. While there are infinite possible reasons why you didn’t get hired, the two most likely are (a) you weren’t deemed a fit, or (b) you were seen as someone who’d be high maintenance—you were judged to be someone who’d bring issues, such as absenteeism, lateness, drama, into the workplace.

Besides selling your skills and experience during an interview pay attention to presenting yourself as someone your interviewer can see themselves working with, with as few issues as possible.

Candidates will tell me all kinds of things, which I assume is their attempt at being personable. Unfortunately, many times, even though they have the skills and experience I’m looking for and would be a good fit, they tell me things that make me think they’ll be high maintenance, the most common being:

  1. “I hate my job,” or “I dislike my boss.”

An interview is not a venting session! Bad-mouthing your ex-employer, or current, makes you come across as being immature. In several instances, after some probing, I determined it was a sense of entitlement (The biggest turn-off of all.) that was skewing the candidate’s judgement of their job and/or boss. 

You know you’ll be asked why you’re looking for a new job or why you applied job, therefore have a brief answer ready. “Now that I have my CPA, I’m ready to take on more accounting responsibilities with a larger company such as MomCorp,” or “The pandemic hit the hospitality industry extremely hard. Understandably Kellerman’s Resort had to lay off over 80% of its staff, which I was part of.” 

  1. “What’s the salary?” or “‘What do your perks and benefits look like?”

When you ask questions regarding salary, perks (“Will I get a discount in Leftorium’s stores?), benefits or how many paid sick days, and vacation days you’ll get, your interviewer will rightfully assume your priority is what you can get from the company, not what you can contribute to the company’s success, and you’ll max out your sick days.

Focus on selling yourself and the skills you’d bring to the role. Let your interviewer bring up compensation.

  1. Offering unnecessary personal details.

It never ceases to amaze me the unsolicited personal details candidates will tell me. It’s my experience such candidates tend to cause drama.

Once I conducted a “formality vetting” interview, in which my team leader sat in. On the candidate’s resume, I noticed they lived in a part of Toronto I was familiar with and asked, “Do you ever go to Sneaky Dees?” It turned out the candidate was a musician who often played Sneaky Dees upstairs venue. For 20 minutes, he told me his “Sneaky Dees” stories, offering TMI (Too Much Information), which was to his detriment. Afterwards, I turned to my team leader, who’d interviewed this candidate for 45 minutes. I said, “You’d be surprised at what people will say to an interested stranger.” 

Never offer personal details that are irrelevant to your ability to perform the job you’re interviewing for. I don’t need to know about your messy divorce or financial struggles, or medical history. (Unless you need medical accommodation.) Likewise, avoid sharing your personal views on politics or religion.

Getting hired today requires more than selling your skills, experience and being judged you’ll be a fit. You need to show that you’re easy to work with and will not upset the current work environment. You’ll not be doing your job search any favours if you appear to be someone who’ll be high maintenance.