Right after graduate school, I sought out as much career advice as I could get my hands on. It wasn’t long before I thought I had completely demystified the interview process. And because of that, I thought I could get any position I managed to get an interview for.
But when it came to those jobs—especially the ones I thought I was a shoo-in for—I wasn’t getting them. In some cases, I wasn’t even hearing back at all. And for a while, I was at a complete loss.
Fast-forward to a few years later when I accepted a job as a full-time recruiter. Before long I conducted enough interviews to understand how a seemingly perfect candidate can really kill the mood unintentionally.
So, if you’re wondering why hiring managers seem a little lukewarm lately, here are three things that’ll most likely ruin your chances.
1. Constantly Selling Yourself Without Answering the Questions
Of course, it’s important to prove to everyone you interview with that you’re a great fit for the job. It’s just as important to give them the exact evidence they’re looking for.
I always appreciated when a candidate was confident in his or her abilities and experience. However, all too often, it seemed candidates who were this “confident” went on and on about their accomplishments and completely ignored the questions they had been asked. Hiring managers appreciate your achievements. In fact, you probably wouldn’t be sitting a room with them if you weren’t impressive. But, reciting your entire list of awards and recognitions repeatedly isn’t as effective as you think.
It’s no secret that interviews are uncomfortable. For everyone. And while all hiring managers have their own quirks about how they conduct themselves around candidates, here’s a secret: If you’ve already described an accomplishment, interviewers will ask for more details if they’re interested. But if they don’t ask, there’s no need to worry. They’ll have plenty of other questions for you.
2. Not Knowing What Position You’re Interviewing For
Early in my career, I remember being told by a number of people to be open to all possibilities when interviewing with a company. Good advice, right? To some degree, yes.
However, even if you’re open to other possibilities, make sure to know what position you’re actually interviewing for.
It may sound obvious, but I was caught completely off-guard by how often candidates would begin an interview by telling me they weren’t sure which position they were being considered for. Of course, I understand that the most qualified candidates usually have multiple interviews on the calendar. But, if you’re ever in doubt about the role you’re interviewing for, take a minute before you step into the office and turn to your phone to clear things up. As a candidate, I’ve done this on more than one occasion myself.
It’s important to remember that from the hiring manager’s perspective, we want every single candidate to be an all-star. In other words, we’re rooting for you to be awesome. Because of that, hiring managers spend hours (yes, hours) preparing for every in-person interview. If you’re not willing to meet us in the middle and at least be aware of the role you’re interviewing for, don’t be surprised if the mood in your interview’s a little less than upbeat.
3. Showing Up (Way) Too Early for Your Interview
Yes – there is such thing as being too early for an interview.
As stressful as an interview is for a candidate, it can be just as stressful for a hiring manager. There’s a lot of pressure on a lot of people to fill open roles with great people, and since they’re super-prepared to interview every single candidate, even the slightest of changes can ruin a mood.
In one instance, a candidate for an entry-level role arrived at our offices three (!!!) hours before her scheduled interview. While this was preferable to being several hours late (I’ve experienced this, as well), I was also in the middle of a meeting and found myself flustered by her arrival, scrambling to simply find somewhere for her to sit in our already overcrowded workspace. Recruiters appreciate it when you make the effort to be 10 to 15 minutes early, but if you need to be any earlier to an interview than that, find a coffee shop nearby to kill the time.
If you’re coming to terms with how you’ve killed the mood of interviews in the past—trust me, I understand—remember that you’re not the only person on the planet who has done any of these things. Now that you’re aware of how you can positively and negatively affect the mood of an interview, go out and let even those tough-to-please hiring managers know how great you really are.
Photo of bad interview courtesy of Shutterstock.
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.More from this Author