These Are Job-seekers’ (and Hiring Managers’) Biggest Pet Peeves

woman thinking in front of laptop

As layoffs are surging, an increase in job hunting is the reality for many Americans. Unfortunately, the system of applying for a new job is hardly seamless, even when you do it all online. From hard-to-navigate online job portals to being ghosted by an employer, many of us have that one job-hunting pet peeve that sets us off the rails.

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 we conducted a survey of 1,000 full-time employed Americans and 400 with hiring experience. We asked them to rank their biggest pet peeves, from the initial application to the interview stage.

Key findings

  • “Rockstar” is the most annoying word employers put in job descriptions.
  • Lack of salary information annoys job seekers the most.
  • “Fast-paced environment” is a red flag for those worried about being overworked.
  • Misspellings and grammatical errors annoy employers most.

The biggest job description red flags

When applying for a new job online, so much can be determined from the job description. We asked employees what turns them 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 (32%). Applicants also take notice when salary information is not included (28%) or they find obvious spelling or grammatical errors (24%). They do not want to see the company culture described as “fun” or a “family” (10%), and if benefits are not listed (6%), applicants view this omission as a red flag. 

biggest job description red flags

Applicants also noted that specific phrases included in job descriptions raise their work-life balance alarm bells. The biggest red flag is the term “fast-paced” environment (20%), followed by “work hard, play hard” (19%) and “above and beyond” (19%). 

Even outside of weighing red flags, applicants find some words downright annoying. Employers should steer clear of terms like “rockstar” (47%), “ninja” (19%) and “guru” (17%) if they are seeking the largest applicant pool possible. 

51% of Americans say the online job application process takes too long

Deciphering the job description is one of the first steps of what can be an arduous process of applying for a job online. We asked employees to rank their biggest pet peeves in the process of discovering an online job ad and filling out the application. 

Consistent with our red flags question, the largest pet peeve is when an online job application includes no salary information (86%). An incredibly frustrating pet peeve is having to manually type information that already exists on your resume into the application (84%).

biggest online job application pet peeves

Difficulty with online job portals (71%), unclear job descriptions when it comes to role responsibilities (64%) and requiring cover letters (61%) are other major pet peeves. In fact, 60% of applicants have had technical difficulties using an online job portal. Somewhat surprisingly, Gen Z (69%) has had the most difficulty in their experience. 

Online job applications are individually designed to be as long as an employer sees fit, and it seems that applicants are feeling the squeeze. Over half of employees (51%) feel the online job application process takes too long. 

According to our results, most online job applications take between 15 and 30 minutes, or an average of 27 minutes. The most time-consuming industries for online applications include education (38 minutes), government (34 minutes) and engineering (29 minutes). 

The biggest job interview pet peeves

Once you get through the time-consuming application stage and land an interview with a company you’re interested in, the potential for friction rarely stops. Ghosting is a rampant problem in the online job market.

For example, 51% have been ghosted by a company they applied for. Interestingly, this experience has doubled from Baby Boomers (34%) to Gen Z (68%), and being ghosted by an employer is the number-one reported interview pet peeve (85%).

biggest job interview pet peeves

Other major interview pet peeves include learning that the job description doesn’t match the role and when your interviewer is late, misses your interview or reschedules at the last minute. Requiring over three interview rounds is also frustrating for applicants.  

Unfortunately, job scams are on the rise as the economy remains unstable. Applicants are particularly vulnerable when applying for jobs online, with 45% of our respondents having experienced one. 

To round out our survey of employees, we asked what a fair job interview process should look like. Here is what potential future applicants have to say. 

A fair job interview should include:

  • Resume
  • Phone interview
  • In-person interview
  • References

Potential future applicants would prefer to skip, if possible:

  • Video interview
  • Cover letter
  • Work sample
  • Past work samples
  • Test project

Employers’ biggest pet peeves about your application and interview

On the other side of the annoying job description, long application, and frustrating interview, is an employer trying to fill a position with the best possible candidate. We surveyed 400 hiring managers on their biggest hiring pet peeves to incorporate their perspectives.

The biggest pet peeve for hiring managers is discovering spelling or grammar errors on your application (84%). They find it cringy when you refer to yourself in the third person on your application (57%) or submit it using an unprofessional email address (57%). Over half of hiring managers do not want to see resumes longer than one to two pages or unprofessional social media profiles as well.

employers’ biggest hiring pet peeves

At the interview stage, being inappropriately groomed or dressed (78%) and giving unfocused answers to questions (68%) can seriously hurt your chances of getting a job. Be sure to not talk negatively about former employers (61%) or forget to research the company beforehand (61%). Hiring managers don’t want you to be too overly flattering (60%) either.

When interviewing over Zoom, take care to not get distracted by something else on the screen (82%) or watch yourself through the camera (82%). Definitely don’t wear pajamas or other unprofessional clothing (81%) or take your phone or laptop on a walk during the interview (70%). And if you expect to have to screen share, be sure to brush up on your skills, as unprofessional screen sharing is a pretty big pet peeve (65%). 

There is room for improvement at every opportunity to authentically connect through the application and interview process. 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. 


From September 1 to 2, 2022, we surveyed 1,001 Americans who are currently employed full-time. 61% identified as male, 38% as female and 1% as nonbinary or preferred not to say. 7% were Baby Boomers, 27% Gen X, 58% Millennials and 8% Gen Z.

We also surveyed 400 hiring managers. 62% identified as male, 36% female and 1% as nonbinary or preferred not to say. 15% were Baby Boomers, 29% Gen X, 50% Millennials and 6% Gen Z.