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Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

The Dos and Don'ts of Being Eager During the Interview Process (Because Yes, You Can Overdo It)

After having been in the executive recruitment industry long enough to see it all, there’s nothing worse than a candidate who’s all too eager for the position in question. Mostly because the person’s very qualified for the job, but ends up portraying him- or herself as desperate. (Or, worse, slightly like a stalker.)

Yes, you should make it clear in any interview that you want the job for which you’re interviewing, but you never want to give the hiring manager the impression that you’ll take anything you’re offered.

It’s a fine line between being excited and being over-the-top. So, with that in mind, here are some interview dos and don’ts:

Do: Your Research About the Company

Find out what the press is saying about your company, and follow it on social media to get a sense of its persona. What projects is it working on? What are the department’s biggest strengths—and where would your experience fit in? Basically, study before you go in so that you can prove that you don’t just want a job, you want this job.

Don’t: Try to Ham Fist What You Learned Into Conversation Where it Doesn’t Fit

This doesn’t prove you’ve done your research; it just proves you don’t listen well. Make sure any research you’re working into conversation makes sense and is answering a question you were asked.

Do: Research the People You’re Interviewing With

Know exactly what they do within the company, as well as what they were doing before. You don’t need to dig deep into Facebook profile photos, but you should poke around on social media to get an idea of their personalities. Does he like jokes? Does she like inspirational mantras? The more you know, the easier it will be to strike the right tone.

Don’t: Acknowledge Your Stalker Status.

Don’t connect with people you’ve interviewed with on LinkedIn until after you’ve received a job offer. And beyond the professional bio, keep your social media stalking details on the DL. Do not, I repeat do not, actually bring specifics up in conversation. Just use your research to get a feeling for the person’s personality.

Do: Arrive on Time

And by on time, I mean five minutes early. Note: It’s OK to arrive earlier if you’re worried about traffic or public transportation delays. Just don’t go into the actual office until it’s time for your interview. Instead, use the extra time to do a quick onceover and take a few deep breaths.

Don’t: Arrive Too Early

And by too early, we mean anything earlier than five minutes before your scheduled time. These things are scheduled for a reason, and the reason is that it’s the designated time set aside for your interview. If you show up any earlier, you instantly transform into a nuisance to the person you’re meeting with.

Do: Ask for a Timeline for Next Steps

It’s fair to want to know how quickly the company’s looking to fill the position and how the process would hypothetically progress. It’s a great question to ask at the end of an interview if it hasn’t yet been addressed.

Don’t: Follow the Timeline Down to the Second

Hiring managers are busy people. You may have all day to think of how that interview went, but they’re working hard to fill the position as well as complete their other duties. If they promised an answer by Friday, and it’s Tuesday of the next week, then it is OK to follow up—but following up the morning of the exact date mentioned is aggressive. If you’re not getting a response, there’s usually a reason. No one sits on an answer for fun.

Do: End the Interview Politely

“Thank you for your time” and a good, firm handshake does wonders.

Don’t: End the Interview With an Invasion of Personal Space

That goes for a hug, or even lingering as though you’re expecting more information or a confirmation you’ve been hired.

Do: Follow Up After the Interview

This is mandatory. By day’s end, you need to send a simple email that says “Thank you for taking time out of your day. I really enjoyed getting to know you and your company better.” Bonus points if you can personalize it.

Don’t: Follow Up, Then Follow Up, Then Follow Up

Then follow up again. If the hiring manager said he would get back to you, he will. When you’re searching for a new job, days can feel like weeks, and it is very easy to lose sight of time perception with the process.  This is where you can easily get into trouble with being overly zealous with your “casual” check-ins.

Do: Remember This Is a Two-Way Street

Not only do you need to impress the company, but the company needs to impress you. Don’t forget that getting the offer is just the first step—make sure this is a place you want to work every day.

Don’t: Take the Interview Process Personally

If things aren’t progressing as quickly as you’d like them to, remember that you’re not alone. Finding a great new job takes time, and enduring a long search is a situation that most people in the workforce have experienced at some point. Beating yourself up is of no value whatsoever and only sabotages your self-confidence. 

Photo of eager dog courtesy of Shutterstock.