Dear Suck-ups: 3 Signs You're Laying it on a Little Too Thick in Interviews
One of the first things many people learn about interviewing for a job is to show enthusiasm about the role throughout every stage of the process. It’s good advice, but it’s also easy to take it way too far at times. When I was recruiting, there were times when a candidate was so overeager that I’d say to myself, “Please just answer my question so I can figure out if we should hire you and finally get some lunch.”
And a lot of times, I’d leave those conversations with a pretty bad taste in my mouth. To help you avoid sucking up to a hiring manager to the point where he or she wants nothing to do with you, here are a few times they know what you’re trying to do and wish you’d stop.
1. When You Make it (Crystal) Clear That You Did Some Heavy Stalking
I appreciated it whenever a candidate would say, “Oh, I noticed this thing you wrote online and thought it was interesting.” That was always flattering, and when done at the beginning of an interview, earned the person a few brownie points. However, there were also times when someone would go on and on about things he or she had learned about me before the interview.
Sure, I’m proud of the thoughts I shared on my LinkedIn, but if you’re trying to win over a hiring manager by bringing up an embarrassing YouTube video he or she happens to be in, you’re only making that person’s life harder than it needs to be.
Don’t be afraid to have an informal interaction when there’s a clear opportunity to do so, but don’t try to butter up someone by bringing up personal details to no end.
2. When You Keep Raving About How Nice the Office Looks
Some companies are very fortunate to have an amazing place to work, complete with on-site saunas and dog sitting services. When you walk into an office that’s this level of ridiculous, it’s clear that the company invested a lot in giving their employees a comfortable place to do their jobs—and to make potential candidates excited about joining the team. However, even if someone greets you with an ice cream cone upon your arrival, keep it short when you want to compliment the office.
This is even more true when a company’s workspace leaves a lot to be desired. When I was recruiting, the rooms I interviewed candidates in weren’t particularly exciting. They were just, well, rooms. So in the couple instances where contenders just raved about where we got to work, it seemed a little disingenuous (to say the least).
And ultimately, we figured out pretty quickly that people who couldn’t stop talking about our “amazing” office were just as dishonest about the more important answers they gave us. So, when you’re impressed by a space, let the hiring manager know, but avoid turning it into an entire conversation.
DID YOU HAVE AN INTERVIEW THAT DIDN’T GO SO WELL?
That’s OK. The fact you’re reading this advice proves you’ll do so much better next time
3. When You Repeatedly Say That This Is Your Dream Company
Sure, no company wants to interview someone who’s there just because he or she needs a job. It’s always nice to know that a candidate is genuinely excited to be considered for your open role.
However, just like any other compliments you might receive, delivering the “Holy moly, I’ve always wanted to work here” line should be done in moderation. While you’d probably have a tough time finding a hiring manager who doesn’t like hearing about how great his or her company is, there is one thing that tends to be easy for candidates to lose sight of—the hiring manager eventually has to make a decision.
And no matter how much that person loves the organization—and insists that it’s his or her dream company, to boot—that won’t be enough for anyone to make a sound conclusion about whether or not to hire a candidate. If it’s short and sweet, that’s totally fine. But if your admiration for a company is making it difficult for someone to get the answers they need, you’re only doing more harm to your chances than good.
Before you start telling your friends that some random writer told you to drop your enthusiasm in interviews, take a deep breath. Interviewing with companies you’re excited to speak with is a great thing.
In fact, I’d argue that you shouldn’t apply to any company that you wouldn’t be pumped to add to your resume. However, be careful not to let that excitement turn into brown-nosing. Hiring managers pick up on these things quicker than you might realize. And while you want to make sure the company knows that you’re pumped about the idea of working there, also make it a point to answer the questions they have about whether or not you’re qualified to do so.
Photo of interview courtesy of Blend Images/Hill Street Studios/Getty Images.
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