As in romantic relationships, hiring managers avoid an overeager suitor. You know the type–after one date or one conversation, they’re calling, texting, and wanting to see you every day in a constant attempt to convince you that they’re “the one.” Unfortunately, this only has the opposite effect. Desperation is relationship repellant, and that’s true when it comes to hiring as well.
If you want to avoid turning hiring managers off with an excessively keen attitude, make sure to fix these bad habits.
1. Overselling your strengths
Have you ever been to a department store where the salespeople keep trying to push the store credit card? With every “No, thanks” the salesperson gets, the more they list benefits and tell you how great the card is and why you’d be a fool to walk out without it. Interviews can go the same way. You have to sell your strengths without overselling.
The Fix: Ask strategic questions, listen, and treat the interview like a business meeting–which is what it is.
If the interviewer says, “We’re looking for someone who can expand our product market to Canada,” your response should consist of more than, “Sure, I can do that!” Go deeper. Ask about their strategic plan and the biggest issues they face as they try to accomplish the expansion.
You may not have the job yet, but offer suggestions as if you do. Tie the topic to an example from your own career, where you overcame a business expansion challenge. Give them specifics about the results you got.
By simply having a business conversation, you’re able to sell yourself without overselling. Remember, it’s not about you–it’s about the company’s needs. How can you solve their problem?
2. Talking too much
When you give answers to questions you weren’t asked, or go on at length, you can ramble yourself right out of a job. Unfocused talk shows you don’t listen well and can’t answer a simple question. I get it: One topic often leads to another, and you get excited about the subject, but be careful. In addition to being rude, you can open yourself to questions you don’t want to answer.
The Fix: Trim the fat by practicing your answers ahead of time. Your interview isn’t a therapy session, and practice really does make perfect. With practice, you get your answers right and tight. Try to do a few mock interviews too, with a friend who will be honest with you when you get off track.
3. Revealing your stalker tendencies
It’s one thing to perform in-depth research on a company or interviewer, but it’s another to list all the ways you’ve stalked them online. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favor of Googling companies and interviewers, but you have to keep it professional. Be careful not to get into their personal life.
The Fix: Don’t focus on personal pages during your interview prep. With Google, everything comes up, but in an interview, you have to avoid initiating topics that you found on non-business-related sites like personal social media pages. If the interviewer brings up a personal topic, don’t respond with something like, “Oh, yes, I saw your Facebook post about that!” Follow their lead.
4. Showing up unannounced
“We’ll be in touch” doesn’t mean “show up to the office unannounced to drop off materials and check in.” Once the interview is over, the last thing recruiters or hiring managers want to see is a candidate returning when they weren’t invited.
The Fix: This comes back to preparation. If you have prepared properly, there should be no need for additional materials. Leave the ball in their court. In your post-interview thank-you email, say you’re available if they need additional materials or information. That’s what’s expected. Don’t follow up multiple times, especially when you haven’t heard anything back the first time.
5. Taking a casual interview environment too far
The interviewer is not your friend and shouldn’t be treated as such. The best interviewers have a way of making you relaxed and comfortable, but be careful not to get relaxed to the point where you’re talking in a manner and tone that’s unprofessional. No matter how casual the environment, or how much rapport you have with the interviewer, keep it businesslike.
The Fix: Always remember that an interview is a business meeting, and don’t do or say anything that you wouldn’t in that context. Simple, right?
6. Saying ‘YES!’ to everything
It’s tempting to think that saying “Yes” to everything the interviewer says gives you an advantage, but it doesn’t. When an employer is seeking new employees, they’re looking for fresh ideas, new insights and immediate impact. They’re not looking for people to agree with everything they say or maintain the status quo.
The Fix: Remember that they want to hear your ideas, and they’re not looking for cookie-cutter answers. They decided to call you for an interview because YOU had something they were looking for. Be yourself, and give them something only you can give!
Interviewing is hard enough. Don’t give interviewers a reason to eliminate you from the process before you’ve even had a chance to showcase your skills. But if you’ve got the right qualifications and can maintain a healthy balance between interested and overeager, you’ve got a great shot at scoring the job.