You don't want to seem like you're trying too hard during your interview.
Job seeking can be incredibly exhausting. It requires you to craft a thoughtful resume, prepare for dozens of potential interview questions, and have incredible persistence. However, sometimes your well-intended efforts can backfire and turn into an annoyance for an employer — especially during the interview. While it's good to research potential interview questions and practice your answers ahead of time, have you thought about the things that you should absolutely not say or do during the actual interview?
Here are the five things to avoid during your job interview — unless you want to come off like you're trying too hard.
Arriving too early
You should definitely be on time for your interview, but showing up too early makes you seem overeager. The general rule of thumb is to arrive 15 minutes before your interview slot. This gives you enough time to find parking, walk to the right floor, and organize your interview materials. It's a good idea to be in the lobby of the office five-to-seven minutes before the interview. Going in any earlier than this, unless specifically instructed to do so, might actually work against you.
Most mid-sized organizations have their meeting rooms in the general office area. If you arrive too early, one of the employees would have to greet and entertain you while waiting for your turn, taking time away from their job. You'll also probably end up having to wait, staring awkwardly at the employees while twiddling your thumbs.
Complimenting the interviewer's physical appearance
While you should be polite during your job interview, please don't walk in there saying “I really love your tie/dress.” The interviewer does not care whether you like their outfit in any way. In fact, complimenting their physical appearance might be perceived as inappropriate. Attempting to get on their good side by giving such superficial compliments will make you come across desperate and will in no way serve you well.
Telling them that the organization is perfect
A common interview question is about what you think the company can do differently to improve. After all, when hiring a new recruit, the company is not just looking for someone with technical knowledge, but also someone who brings a fresh perspective and proactive ideas to enhance their current culture or performance. Telling them that you don't think there is anything they can do differently as they are already perfect will make you look like an ingenuine people-pleaser. Instead, be honest and politely tell them about the opportunities for improvement you see.
Being a “yes man”
Hiring managers look for someone with who they have good chemistry with. This chemistry is established when you have things in common with them — either at work or outside of work — and can have good conversations about them. If you tend to agree with everything your interviewer says just to please them, you'll come across as fake and your prospective manager will have a hard time trusting you. When you try too hard, people tend to wonder what it is that you have to hide by being so overly enthusiastic. Are you trying to compensate for your insecurities? Or are you so lacking in personality that you have nothing interesting to add to the conversation? Either way, being a “yes man” will not work in your favor in the long run. Instead, try to have a natural conversation that makes the manager comfortable and builds rapport with them.
When going for a job interview, you want to be able to highlight your qualifications without sounding too smug and conceited. Be mindful of your tone when you answer interview questions. The way you answer questions can convey a lot about your personality, so be humble and honest when you talk about your accomplishments.
There is a fine line between self-promoting and boasting. Don't ever try to impress the hiring manager by overinflating the truth, as this always backfires. If a successful project in the past was the result of a group effort, give your colleagues due credit. It's really easy for hiring managers to fact-check your application form and interview answers. If they find out that you lied about your accomplishments just to impress them, it can count as a big mark against you. Claiming all the glory for yourself is not an attractive quality, so be fair about your contributions at your previous organization.
You should definitely send a follow-up note after your job interview, but don't do so aggressively. An email or a thank-you note within 24 hours after your interview is ideal.
In your note, you can also find out about the next steps by politely asking them about an ideal time for you to follow up again if you don't hear anything. This way, you'll have a rough timeline in mind and avoid coming across too demanding by following up too early. If you forgot to ask this and have not heard back from the hiring manager after the first email or note, five days is an acceptable waiting period before sending another follow-up note. Be sure to use a positive tone and avoid making the interviewer feel guilty about the waiting time!
When it comes to the interview, you want to walk the fine line between being enthusiastic and coming on too strong. Trust us — it can make all the difference.
Not sure how you're portraying yourself to an interviewer? Our expert interview coaches can let you know. Learn more!