You did it. You landed an interview for that position you’re ridiculously excited about. You’ve admired the company for ages, the responsibilities sound like they’re right up your alley, and scoring this gig will cut your commute time in half. You just know this was meant to be.
Needless to say, you can’t keep yourself from grinning ear-to-ear and bouncing up and down every time you think of the upcoming meeting.
When the day arrives, you stroll into the interview with a giant smile pasted on your face, feeling confident and ready to knock it out of the park. After all, they couldn’t find a candidate who’s more enthusiastic than you.
But, suddenly, the interview takes a turn. Instead of admiring the passion you’re so obviously demonstrating, the hiring manager seems a little put off by it—alright, maybe even a little scared of it.
Where did you go wrong? Why do you suddenly feel like you’ll be handed a restraining order instead of an offer letter? Was it the fact that you knew everything about her—from her birthday to her dog’s name? Was it the catchy jingle you had written about the business’ core values? Was it the ice cream cake emblazoned with the company’s logo that you brought with you?
Well, actually, it was all of those things. Sure, these examples might be a little extreme, but you get the point.
Demonstrating your passion and excitement in an interview is always recommended—it’s repeated career advice for good reason. However, as with anything, there’s a line here that you don’t want to cross.
Confused? Have no fear. Here are three clear signs you’ve transitioned from interested candidate to borderline stalker. If you recognize any of these in yourself? Well, then you know it’s time to rein in your enthusiasm—immediately.
1. You Know Absolutely Everything About the Company
Adequate preparation for your interview is something I preach time and time again—it’s important! So, it feels a little counterintuitive to now say there’s such a thing as being a little too prepared. But, believe me, there is.
Yes, you want to be armed with knowledge about what the organization does, why they do it, what the position entails, and even some of the company history. But, if you’re treating the interview like a trivia night—and you’re stumping the hiring manager with obscure, little-known facts you managed to dig up from the dusty corners of the company’s website? Suddenly you look condescending, unproductive, and even a little crazy—all at the same time.
Remember, you definitely want to be informed about the big picture—but, that doesn’t mean you should be able to recite the entire mission statement in Portuguese.
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2. You’re Forgetting About the Position
You’re incredibly excited about this company. That’s a great thing! But, remember, your main focus should be on the actual position, as well as why you’re the perfect fit to fill it.
That definitely means you shouldn’t send an email to HR saying you’d love “any opportunity” to work there. Making it sound like you’d be willing to clean the bathrooms if it meant you got your foot in the door isn’t a great way to kick off your engagement.
And once you’ve actually landed an interview for a job you applied for? You don’t want to spend the entire meeting ranting and raving about how much you love and adore the company, only to never even touch on what interests you about the role you’re interviewing for.
Yes, hiring managers want you to be a solid fit with the company culture—and knowing you’re excited about what they offer can definitely help.
But, beyond that, they also need to ensure that you’re a fit for the role. That means spending more time talking up your own skills and accomplishments, and less time obsessing over those weekly all-you-can-eat staff taco parties you saw on Instagram.
3. You’re Following Up Incessantly
This is likely the part of the process where most people find themselves falling into the stalker trap. I get it—knowing how to successfully follow up on a job can be tricky. You want to be persistent and stay on the radar. But, at the same time, you don’t want to cross over into pest territory.
If you sent your “thank you” note off after the interview (ahem, to the company address—not the hiring manager’s home) and haven’t heard anything 10 or so days later, it’s perfectly fine to check in on the hiring timeline and stay in the loop. That’s likely even expected.
What’s not-so-expected or encouraged? Constant phone calls to the hiring manager’s work and personal cell number. Daily emails that end with, “Please, please, please just get back to me as soon as possible!” Liking every single thing the company and its employees post on social media. That big bouquet of flowers and singing telegram you had delivered to the office (it’s a nice gesture, but a little over the top).
Your goal with your follow-up is simply to be pleasantly persistent and stay top of mind—that’s it. Otherwise you might find yourself needing to stay more than 500 feet away from that hiring manager all at times. Fair warning.
“Demonstrate your passion!” is common career advice—and for good reason. Showing your level of excitement about the company and the job is definitely advisable.
However, there’s a line that you want to be careful not to cross. Stay away from these three things, and you’ll be able to express your interest—without coming off like a crazy person.
Photo of excited person courtesy of ONOKY-Fabrice LEROUGE/Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development, and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she's also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor all over the web. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her rescued terrier mutt or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author