I was going to ask this question in separate parts, but think no one shortcoming could have alone caused the end result. I recently graduated with a computer science degree. I had been working with a recruiter for a tech support position. I thought the interview went well but I was surprised to receive an email from the recruiter saying the 'HR rep was very displeased with my behavior'. She passed along the reasons

  1. I did not dress professionally
  2. I slouched
  3. I yawned

Regarding dress, I wore a dress shirt, dress pants, dress shoes, dress socks and a black belt. I didn’t wear a tie as these are very uncommon where I live. When I went into the office I noticed there was a wide mix: some people wore hoodies and jeans, but the people who interviewed me wore full suits with jackets and ties.

Obviously it’s important to dress formally to an interview, but how do you know exactly how formally? As an extreme example, I’ve gone to interviews where they wore jeans and t-shirts and if I wore a tuxedo it would have hurt my chances. If the point of dressing for an interview is to convey you would fit in with the culture, wouldn’t it be possible to over dress? I guess I should have asked the recruiter for specifics.

Regarding slouching I have never been told this. People often tell me I sit so straight it looks like I’m tense. I can only guess when I was leaning back in my chair he found it rude, though he was doing it so I was mirroring him (I do not consider leaning back slouching).

The yawning was bad. I was unable to sleep well the night before due to noise. Should I have mentioned this or apologized? It would seem he explicitly told the recruiter I didn’t try to stifle my yawns, which isn’t true. If you do feel the need to yawn in an interview, what should you do? He also said I stretched my arms but I don’t consider this rude?

Just to point out the interview was an hour long. I had completed my school’s co-op program, and while I realize the expectation is different for a real job, I’ve never had any of these comments. Should I chalk it up to bad luck? Should I email the recruiter and say I disagree with some of these points? Should I assume the recruiter doesn’t want to work with me anymore? Should I email the HR rep and apologize? This came as a very big surprise to me. For what it's worth, the HR rep offered me his card before I asked and find this strange given the way he felt about me.

  • 13
    For what kind of role are you interviewed ? I could understand the comments as a commercial, but for an IT job, that seems like a poor excuse.
    – Walfrat
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 7:58
  • 7
    For dress codes, in interviews, see this question. As for the other points, seems like it was just not your time. Twyxz's answer pretty much covers it, sometimes you just get bad interviews and there's nothing you can do
    – Draken
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 8:19
  • 3
    You probably want to qualify which country you are in. Expectations can vary widely from one culture to another. But my guess is the main issue is the yawning, the rest probably is either just that as they started to have a negative impression they picked up on things they wouldn't have normally, or they just added them to pad the list of reasons.
    – jcaron
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 10:22
  • 6
    When you yawned, did you make noise? And did you cover your mouth? Say 'excuse me'/'sorry' right after? In some situations I have had people note a pet peeve about yawning, where they don't mind it but want you to cover your mouth when you do it (odd cultural thing, I guess), and you mustn't make noise while doing so; yawning is typically not optional but making noise while doing so always is.
    – TylerH
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 15:21
  • 4
    Voting to close because your question doesn't really have a clear focus. You have 4 separate issues here (which should be 4 separate questions) - the 3 issues they mentioned, and the issue of how to deal with their response (which also contains a bunch of questions which are either opinion-based or have seemingly obvious answers - e.g. what's the harm in apologising? ... unless you'd like help constructing a response). And then the top-voted answer focuses on yet another issue of whether you actually want to work there. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 16:31

13 Answers 13


I'm going to take a different approach from the consensus here. I think this is a bullet dodged.

I don't know about the country / culture you're speaking of, and that carries a lot of weight in these things. But some things are somewhat universal. For example, tech companies are on the more relaxed side with regards to dress code. The fact that these folks cared so much about this detail should be a red flag. Doubly so because there wasn't the same expectation for the other employees in the office. It was just a hoop for you to jump through. In general, unless the position is customer facing, dress codes aren't that common in tech companies.

Another thing is that the things the HR department is saying aren't typical of an HR department. In general, if the company decides on a no-hire, they are quite mum about the reasons why. They don't want to open themselves up to litigation more-or-less. So at most they'll say that you're not a good fit at this time, or they were looking for somebody with more/different experience. But definitely not something like what you're reporting. So the fact that HR is so unprofessional would be another red flag for me.

Finally, the fact that they picked up on your slouching, whether imagined or real, is a doubly big red flag, as well as a sign that they're not nice people in general. It seems they're using it to imply something about your character or work ethic. But in many cases it can be a medical condition, so outside your immediate control.

I would say the yawning probably didn't leave a great impression. But telling them you had a bad night before probably would not have helped. Not something which should be reported explicitly, like the other items, but something which will stick with people.

It's up to you if you want to write them back or not. No amount of push back will make them hire you if they don't want to, but you can at least draw attention to the fact that they're being unprofessional.

  • 18
    Great answer, but I wouldn't bother with the last item. He probably won't be changing any minds, and there is no upside for OP in contacting them to share this feedback.
    – hamstercat
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 19:58
  • 6
    That's quite the logical leap. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 20:34
  • 2
    @AdamDavis except for the yawning which I agree is a bad thing when done excessively. I'd say there's a lot of cultural context here we're not aware of. So giving advice is hard. But if it were me in any of the countries I've worked in, I'd not change anything. Interviews are for the candidate to evaluate the company as much as for the company to evaluate the candidate. And for me, being sticklers for such rules is a warning sign. And it's not the case that the job demands it - we're speaking about a personal preference of the company's HR department. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 20:54
  • 3
    Regarding the yawning - while I wouldn't try and explain the reasons why it probably is ok to call it out another way, for example: "[yawn] Excuse me, I haven't had my coffee this morning!". Even if the excuse is fairly thin it shows that yes, you're aware that you're yawning but you aren't doing it out of boredom or lack of respect for the job offer or the interviewer.
    – Robotnik
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 23:17
  • 2
    I'd consider it a red flag that HR are making hiring decisions at all. In most firms I've worked for that employ HR people (the best ones don't) their job is to facilitate the hiring manager (booking a room, fixing coffee, dealing with recruiters, checking visas and stuff) not making decisions.
    – Rich
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 3:47

Disclaimer: this is coming from Eastern Europe culture (or at least my experience of it). You don't specify locale, so YMMV.

1) I did not dress professionally

I interviewed in places where my prospective boss's tie was probably worth more than my car. I also interviewed in places where, if I hadn't known it's a job interview, I would think I accidentally walked in on high-school party.

Never once I had dressed in anything less than a full suit with a tie. No matter what you think about the company, it's image etc., by dressing in a formal attire you show respect - after all, it's a meeting between two strangers with the intent to discuss business - appropriate clothing shows that you care about the interview and that you were willing to take time to prepare.

2) I slouched ... I can only guess when I was leaning back in my chair he found it rude, though he was doing it so I was mirroring him

If he started to pick his nose, would you still mirror him? Disregard what others are doing, focus on your own professionalism.

As for leaning back - at least here, leaning back in your chair (in a professional setting) communicates disregard for your conversation partner, indicating that you find what he is saying complete rubbish or that you want to show that you are better then to listen to him. In either case, yes, it's (very) rude to lean back in your chair. Two close coworkers may lean back and discuss something, never two strangers.

3) I yawned

If you yawned once, covered your mouth and apologized, it's no big deal. If you do it continuously, you send a message that a) your interviewer is boring you b) you didn't think the interview was important enough to get a good night's sleep. Stretching your arms has the same connotation.

As for their reply, there's pretty much no point in continuing, because it's either a genuine concern of theirs, or "random excuse #27" to not hire you. Either way, move on, try to suppress those behaviors and good luck on your job hunt.

  • 15
    "you didn't think the interview was important enough to get a good night's sleep" -> I never sleep well the night before an interview even if I'm not feeling nervous or anxious (thought sometimes I am). I suspect it might be the same for many people.
    – Jay
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 18:28
  • 1
    This is all exactly correct. Someone who leans back in their chair is not hirable. Someone who yawns is absolutely not hirable.
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 21:21

In my opinion, if the interview says formal or doesn't state any form of dress code I would always approach the interview being as smart as possible, full suit, tie etc.

As for your other comments, there's not much you can do about those now. I wouldn't let it knock you as there are plenty more jobs out there, especially if you make additional contact. It may seem like you're desperate or worrying about it, which won't help your cause.

I also don't believe leaning is classified as slouching but that completely depends on the interviewer so I wouldn't worry about it. Just put it down to bad luck and continue looking, Good Luck :)

Quick Tip: never mimic what the interviewer is doing. It's their playground, they can do what they want. You need to just do what you can and what you think.

  • 3
    Very interesting tip. I learned that mirroring is a good interpersonal skill en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirroring_(psychology)#Interviews Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 8:59
  • 3
    Sometimes an employer can use this to catch you out, if they feel relaxed you can change the way you act but never slouch or lean in this case. Feeling out the nature of the job and the culture of the company is also important. If it feels serious and professional I would personally never even lean
    – Twyxz
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 9:03
  • 4
    Absolutely, do not EVER take this answer's advice. For the tech industry, by listening to this guy you might as well be committing career suicide.
    – Sentinel
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 17:54
  • 4
    @Sentinel All the nopes. When you get past the junior coder stage, presenting as professional (ironed shirt, pressed trousers, shined shoes) is a key skill. You'll need to go out to customers, conferences and talk to serious people who might give your company money. If you can't present yourself smartly for an interview, I certainly wouldn't trust you to do it for something important to the company. And that means at best you aren't going past being a junior geek who everyone keeps away from anything important.
    – Graham
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 18:51
  • 9
    Ridiculous. There are endless numbers of senior developer and even engineering manager positions that don't require going out to see customers or seek out new business. It's explicitly out of the job description in most cases, in fact, at every company I've worked for, for one reason -- it's a different skillset. Technical consulting is different, of course; you've gotta have both, which is rare. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 20:40
  1. I did not dress professionally

While lack of a tie probably was an issue I would also say you have to consider not just what you were wearing but how you were wearing it. Were the clothes clean and pressed? Do they fit you well? These things matter to the overall impression you convey.

If the point of dressing for an interview is to convey you would fit in with the culture

Nope this isn't the point. The point is to present yourself in a professional manner and to show that you are taking it seriously. Unless the company is known for actively disliking buisness formal attire or the recruiter advises specifically otherwise interview attire is always shirt, suit, & tie. I've worked in places with daily dress codes varying from the uber scruffy to fully suited and booted. The common thread (no pun intended) through was that when having external meetings with suppliers, clients etc you were always expected to err on the formal side - especially for a first meeting. An interview should be treated the same way.

I slouched

Slouching in an interview is never good.

Regarding slouching I have never been told this. People often tell me I sit so straight it looks like I’m tense. I can only guess when I was leaning back in my chair he found it rude, though he was doing it so I was mirroring him (I do not consider leaning back slouching) and by leaning back I mean putting my back against the seat with all 4 legs still on the ground.

Yeah, this is almost certainly what they were talking about, mirroring the interviewer isn't a good idea either. You need to practice an alert, attentive posture and maintain that. I probably wouldn't go so far as describing leaning back as slouching either.. but I'd be lying if I didn't say that I would consider a candidate who did so to be inattentive and showing a lack of engagement with the interview.

  1. I yawned

The yawning was bad. I was unable to sleep well the night before due to noise.

Oh that's bad, and I mean really bad. I appreciate that it can't alway be controlled or suppressed but there are steps you can take, you can caffienate (if that's your thing), take a cold shower beforehand, splash cold water on your face before you walk in to the interview. Unless you are severely sleep-deprived (and I'm talking not slept well for several days beforehand) keeping yourself alert enough to avoid yawning for an hour should be well within a candidate's capabilities.

If you do feel the need to yawn in an interview, what should you do?

If you absolutely have to yawn in an interview then you should descreetly cover your mouth and apologize, preferrably immediately.

He also said I stretched my arms but I don’t consider this rude?

Sorry but if that referes to stretching your arms out as you yawn then yes that's incredibly rude, and that would also come across as not stfiling your yawn. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if that (assuming that is what happened) is playing a large part in informing the other feedback. I can imagine that they would be far less likely to let something like a slightly wrinkled shirt, or lack of a tie go in the light of that sort of rudeness - this means something that they might not even have thought twice about to become "didn't dress professionally". Same with the leaning back - what might have been charitably written off as "just the way they sit" or "relaxed under pressure" becomes lazy, tired, or even "slouching".

  • 1
    but I'd be lying if I didn't say that I would consider a candidate who did so to be inattentive and showing a lack of engagement with the interview. May I ask, what culture you are in? I always thought a relaxed posture conveys confidence and openness, while tension is a sign of nervousness and uncertainty of own ability, but maybe I should change the way I behave in interviews?
    – LLlAMnYP
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 13:28
  • 2
    @LLlAMnYP Couple that with constant yawning and arm stretching, I would say that showed severe lack of interest or desire to engage in the interview.
    – Dan
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 14:09
  • 1
    Completely agree with this answer. Having a freshly ironed shirt, or even a nice jacket would be ideal dressing for interviews even in a very casual environment.
    – Dan
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 14:15
  • @Dan that of course, but in and of itself? I just always thought that reaching an informal atmosphere is a good thing, but some googling suggests I might want to re-evaluate that.
    – LLlAMnYP
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 14:18
  • 2
    @LLlAMnYP I'm in the UK... it's not that I'm suggesting that the interviewee should be looking 'tense' - although I wouldn't really hold it against them if they did - interviews can be stressful experiences. What I more mean is that I'd expect the candidate to look engaged with the interview, so more of an upright posture or if anything leaning slightly forward, this can still be a relaxed posture and conveys engagement much better than leaning away.
    – motosubatsu
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 15:16

It’s hard to judge without being there but — in addition to Horia’s answer, with which I agree 100% — it seems to me that HR was fishing for reasons to explain the no hire.

They may not have invented the reasons out of thin air but the points you gave are unlikely to constitute the sole reason.

That said, all points taken together could well create the (unintentional) impression that you weren’t really interested in the job. As an aside, if you fail to stifle a yawn, offer an excuse and potentially a very brief explanation to dispel the impression of disinterest.

Take it as a learning experience and move on.

  • 2
    Right.. the real reason for the non-hire could be something that is not legal for them to state, or something they can't put their finger on exactly (discomfort with OP's attitude, perhaps), so they may have seized upon tangible aspects of OP's behavior. Caution is called for in interpretation. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 15:26

Obviously it’s important to dress formally to an interview, but how do you know exactly how formally?

There are a few different theories for this. I subscribe to the theory that suggests you can't be overdressed, and unless communicated beforehand that a different style is more appropriate I wear a suit and tie.

If the point of dressing for an interview is to convey you would fit in with the culture, wouldn’t it be possible to over dress?

If that were the point, then yes.

However I believe the point is to present yourself in the best light, and under-dressing will always harm you more than overdressing, so if there's uncertainty I suggest you be overdressed.

Keep in mind that you're being compared to all the others applying for the job, and if your dress is less, even though it mey not bear on your job it will leave a negative impression compared to others.

Consider two stores - one is freshly redesigned, painted, well maintained, and brightly lit, while the other is adequately lit, adequately maintained, and has a usable design. You'll find that most people prefer the nicer one over the other even if in all other aspects there's no real difference other than looks.

Should I have mentioned this or apologized?

If you have to yawn more than once during an important interview, then you're already displaying an inability to prepare for an important meeting and present yourself rested and ready to work and interact. This coupled with leaning back suggests a lack of interest or desire to "win" the interview.

If you have a reasonable explanation that tells them this was unavoidable, exceptional, and will not happen in the future when you are working for them, then, at this point, it can't hurt you more than your yawning and slouching already have to try to explain your condition.

In other words it probably doesn't matter, you've lost the opportunity, so an explanation can't hurt, and may possibly help if you can convince them it's unusual and wouldn't happen again.

If you do feel the need to yawn in an interview, what should you do?

Take deep breaths. Try to focus on what's going on. Pinch yourself surreptitiously, bite your tongue, dig your nails into your palms, or do something to get your body to be attentive without alerting the interviewer that you're having a hard time controlling your body.

If you have to yawn, make it as small and short as possible, cover your mouth, don't stretch, and while you should look away from the interviewer, don't point your head towards the ceiling or use any more movement than necessary to regain control after the yawn.

Apologize without explanation and move on, "Sorry. So your questions was..."

He also said I stretched my arms but I don’t consider this rude?

It's not rude in some contexts, but, like yawning, it shows a lack of either preparation, or control over your body. Perhaps neither should or would affect your ability to perform, but body language is tricky and it may be interpreted as lack of attention or care for the proceedings.

Should I chock it up to bad luck?

No. You should alter your behavior and preparation for future interviews.

Should I email the recruiter and say I disagree with some of these points?

Your recruiter is interested in finding you a job, and by getting feedback and giving it to you they are trying to make you better fit the needs of the clients they are working for.

If you do not believe you did one or more of these things, then I suppose you could dispute them with the recruiter, but what effect will that actually have? Maybe they believe you and they move on. Maybe they believe the interviewer and start thinking of you as unaware - or worse, a liar.

It might be wise to respond to the recruiter saying, "I appreciate the feedback and will prepare myself and present myself better next time."

Then do so.

Should I assume the recruiter doesn’t want to work with me anymore?

I wouldn't assume anything. If they don't doubt your technical skills, they'll probably continue to shop you around.

Call or email them and ask them 1) if they have any other positions that might fit your skills, and 2) what skills employers are looking for in this area that are close but don't exactly fit your resume.

This will show them you're interested, you're able to adapt, and the simple act of following up will demonstrate you're motivated, suggesting that you'll work to improve how you present yourself.

Should I email the HR rep and apologize?

No. Your business with them is finished, and if you don't want to annoy your recruiter don't attempt further contact with the company. Remember, your recruiter may still be trying to fill this job and get the recruitment fee - so they still need to maintain a good relationship with this HR.

FWIW the HR rep offered me his card before I asked and find this strange given the way he felt about me.

This is automatic - even if they didn't like you they will still act professionally and give you contact information.

Even if others are correct and this job isn't good for you, receiving the offer and having the choice to accept or reject it is better than not receiving the offer and having no choice. Assessing whether a job or company fits your requirements and has a culture you're comfortable working in is another question entirely, and while it's nice to pretend that you've dodged a bullet, it's not the best result possible, and the things you can fix are easy to fix so there's no good reason not to.

  • 1
    +1 Very thorough, detailed explanation. Good point about shopping him around. You may want to add that it's in the recruiter's interests to place him. Very good answer. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 13:26

One of the most valuable skills to have in an interview (and, indeed, on the job) is to be able to see yourself through other peoples' eyes. You are on the right path by asking for help interpreting their response, but since we don't have the interviewer's direct feedback, it's hard for us to offer advice - we have to rely on your own ability to compare your self image to their perception of you. And based on the fact you're asking, I would say there's a big disconnect there.

Yawning in an interview can mean a lot of things. A minor yawn, stifled with your hand over your mouth, as people are shuffling in or out of the room before or after the formal interview, is a very different thing than leaning back, stretching your hands out above your head, and giving a protracted open-mouth yawn in the middle of a question, halfway through the interview.

People have provided you feedback that was critical towards the interviewers. I understand that feedback, but you have to be able to be self-critical as well, otherwise you will continue to be surprised by situations like this. Yes, maybe you "dodged a bullet" here, but your actions could be equally off-putting to a good employer as well as a bad one. I don't think we have nearly enough information to know whether this potential employer was the former or the latter.

Interviews are critical because they give the employer a chance to evaluate not only your skills, but also your behavior, attitude, personal communication skills, and motivations. You yawned because you were tired due to noise. It was (apparently) enough of a yawn to solicit feedback. They are left wondering - can this person ever get enough sleep? Are they bored? Will there be a chronic problem of tardiness and sleeping on the job? Will they come in to an important client meeting displaying a clear lack of sleep? A single yawn isn't a big deal but it invites questions and doubts. Interviews that reduce questions and doubts are the ones that result in job offers. Interviews that create doubt result in rejections.

Also, I think it's implied in pretty much all employment situations that dress code during normal course of business has no bearing on dress code during an interview. Wearing a suit and tie that aren't tattered or wrinkled and fit you well is, unquestionably, the default. Yes, there are lots of different dress codes in different organizations, but no one is going to question someone who is dressed the same, or perhaps one or two steps above, those conducting the interview. You were interviewed by people in suits and ties and you didn't even have a jacket or tie yourself. I'm not surprised they saw that as a red flag.

You mentioned you're working with a recruiter. It's their job to help navigate the relationship between candidate and employer. Get their help. They know more about this particular situation than we do. A good recruiter will know the employers they work with and understand the culture and attitude. They'll know the HR reps and should be able to interpret feedback. They should be able to guide you ahead of time on exceptional circumstances and they should be able to help you interpret feedback. If your current recruiter isn't helping you in those ways, find some new recruiters. They are (most typically) paid by the employer, and you are the resource they're getting paid for - make them work for it.


email recruiter
Yes you should email them but do NOT argue any of the points.

I am sorry if I came off as rude as that was not my intention. I had not slept well the night before because of noise. Yes I did yawn. I will will take in the feedback and improve.

email HR rep
For sure don't argue any of the points with them. I would just thank them.

Thank you for your hospitality and time on mm/dd/yy to interview for the position of xxxx. Put in a detail from the interview that is a compliment to the interviewer or company.

As for dress and mannerism. Take in the feedback and improve. It does not matter if you do not consider leaning back as rude. One person did.


Take the criticism professionally and don't do it next time. But move forwards and don't dwell on failures, they happen, you learn from them and then move past them.

The only thing you should email them if you feel the need for some reason (I wouldn't bother) is to thank them for their time. Generally it's a bad idea to admit weakness unless there is an obvious gain to doing so. In this case you're not going to get the job so cut your losses and do better next attempt.


You should move on and consider this a learning experience. You can almost never go wrong dressing formally in a suit and tie for an interview. Body language is important as it is part of the overall communications you are giving off. Being fatigued, although beyond your control, doesn't leave a good first impression.

Most hiring managers view the interview as representing the absolute best you can do in terms of presenting yourself.

Sorry this happened to you. I doubt there is anything you can do to turn back time with the employer, but it might be worth reaching out to the recruiter and letting them know it was an off day for you.

If I may make a suggestion, between now and the next interview, I would recommend you spend some time self-learning about non-verbal communications with the goal of better understanding your own tendencies for body language. There probably aren't any seasoned professionals that have mastered presenting/interviewing that haven't spent time studying non-verbal communications.

  • 2
    @user3056714 - any company that penalises you for wearing a suit to an interview is way more of a red flag than the other way around. One is just expecting you to scrub up at an interview, the other is basically telling you how to dress all the time.
    – Toby
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 15:31
  • 3
    @user3056714 As someone who works in IT, I disagree with you. While the call-centre staff and hardware support teams are dressed casually (the latter mostly because of dust/grime, etc) about 40% of our softwear developers are wearing dress-shirts and formal trousers, and about 80% of those have a suit jacket (even if it spends most of the time hanging on the coat-stand or the back of their chair instead of worn) - and the 60% not wearing a suit are mostly wearing a smart blouse or dress. Wearing a suit to an interview says "I know how to be professional", even if the job doesn't require it. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 15:42
  • Did you mean to say "you should move on" instead of "you should move?" Suggesting that the OP move seems excessive...
    – reirab
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 20:18
  • 1
    @Toby I would say both are huge red flags, but this will vary by industry, region, and company. Personally, I would view the expectation of wearing a suit for an IT position where I live to be, at the very least, an indication that the company has an overly-stuff HR department that doesn't know how to hire IT staff. At worst, it can indicate that management hasn't taken the time to understand IT or its importance at all. People who don't understand engineering or IT managing and/or setting policy for engineering or IT does not end well (either for the employee or for the company.)
    – reirab
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 20:31
  • Requiring anything other than being presentable and appropriate to the position and context is a red flag. Reasonable people are reasonable, and understand what matters. I personally don't want a job involving dressing up, and so generally dress one level nicer than usual for interviews (I've also heard this as advice for consultants -- dress slightly nicer than the clients). Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 20:47

I think the thing you've missed is that there is an expectation in an interview situation that you care about the first impression the interviewer will have, and should try your best to portray interest and respect.

It should be common practice to arrive at interview looking like a professional, regardless of what you 'think' the dress code is- this means suit and tie. You should also try to be polite and engaged- show interest in what the interviewer is saying, respond thoughtfully and promptly and generally demonstrate that you appreciate their time is valuable. From what you've said, this seems to be where you've fallen down on this occasion.

Leaning back/sitting back implies you are not interested or don't really care (regardless of what the interviewer is doing. You're not equals in this situation, so don't act like it). You should always sit forward/upright. Keep your hands in sight (clasped on the table or a knee works well if you're a fidgeter), and try and show you're engaged in the conversation.

I'd suspect what really lost it was the yawn. I've never known anyone yawn in an interview, and if you did combine it with a stretch as you yawned I'm afraid I too would have immediately ruled you out. It smacks of disrespect. If you'd yawned once but covered it politely and immediately said something like 'I'm really sorry, I didn't sleep well' it might have just slid by, but a full out yawn, with stretch, and no explanation would come off as rude in any professional situation. It's basically the same as you saying that you don't care what impression you're making, that you're tired of the conversation and have lost focus, or that you don't care about whether you get the position.

At the end of the day, like others have said, it doesn't matter what you think (or even what the day to day ethos of the company is). An interview is often your only chance to make a good impression (and a fairly short one at that), with someone who is usually very busy and has a fair amount of responsibility to make sure only the best candidates get through.

I'd say (from significant experience) that the message you need to take forward is:

  1. Always suit up, unless specifically told otherwise (very rare).
  2. Make a real effort to be as engaged as possible. Lean forward. Make eye contact. Be friendly but professional. Ask relevant questions to show you've been listening.
  3. Don't make assumptions about what the company wants. Often, it's not so much about your qualifications as whether you'll be a good fit, and the interviewer is the one who'll judge that. Respect them.

In terms of responding to this situation, please don't contact the interviewer- they've already made their decision on you and it's unlikely to change. I think it's probably important that you reach out to your recruiter though. Acknowledge that it wasn't your best performance, apologise for putting them in an awkward position and ask politely if it's possible to keep working together.

I'd also take the feedback seriously. Usually, if someone doesn't want to hire you they'll have excuses like experience, qualifications, better candidates. The fact that this interviewer has felt they need to specifically say you were rude and unprofessional means that you really messed up and they want you to know why so you don't do it again.

  • 2
    Comments are not for debating a person's answer @user3056714 If you have a better answer, post it. Do not argue in the comments. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 12:55

I will say learn from this and grow but, I will also agree you may have dodged a bullet. I had an interview one time where the atmosphere was tense. I had 3 people in the room. The director of the department was very intense to the point where the other 2 looked like rabbits sitting next to a hungry lion. He questioned me several times on my desire for the job even though I expressed I was ready for the challenge and thrived on being challenged. I left the interview feeling good until I realized just how miserable tehy all seemed. I removed myself from the running the next day. I say all this to convey that sure you should learn from the bullet points given but also take with you what you the measure of the interviewers. As for the bullet points:

  1. It is more often than not better to overdress then under-dress. Even if you're not full on suit, definitely a tie. If you do wear a suit make sure it fits. (I had a recruiter tell me I looked sloppy. I had one suit and lost 50 lbs so it was kind of baggy.)

  2. Can't really speak on posture since I slouch with the best of them. I will say if the atmosphere is tense (very serious, impersonal type of interview) I had issues that I had to mindfully correct. If it was a relaxed interview I felt more comfortable and everything posture, demeanor, confidence went up. Not something you can control but as someone said before that could speak volumes about the company atmosphere.

  3. Yawning can be hit or miss. Not throwing out how you were tired because of a,b,c reasons was probably a good thing. While valid reasons they could have easily been misconstrued as excuses. The arm stretch though may have definitely been a problem. Stifling your yawn is a good idea as long as you don't make it blatantly obvious. If I feel a yawn coming on at a inopportune time I will hold it in as best I can.

Also I think of a recruiter as an agent. They are there to get you in so they get their money. A good recruiter won't just boot you because of a bad interview. Some will even help and coach you. I would talked to them about my concerns. They are there to offer advice and help you get a job. If this recruiter doesn't work out then find one that will.


Do exactly as you wish. If you want a job where you can yawn when tired and dress as you wish, keep being exactly as you are, without compromise. If you feel you were unfairly treated, then screw them. You win. You avoided being treated like a monkey later.

Hey this is a short answer but in a nutshell this is all you need to know.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .