When you’re interviewing for a new job, you’re likely well aware of the common pitfalls that you should absolutely avoid. For example, you know that you should thoroughly prepare for a job interview in advance, not to show up late, and that dropping an F-bomb will definitely ensure you’ve definitely just bombed the job interview.
There are so many obvious dos and don’ts for a job interview, but what about the interview habits that seem smart but are actually hurting your chances at getting that offer letter?
Here are all the interview habits you have that might seem like a great idea, but are actually hindering your chances of nailing that dream job. Listen up!
1. You show up too early.
Showing up late to an interview is an obvious no-no, but what about showing up too early? You might think arriving early signals that you’re a go-getter, but showing up more than 10 or 15 minutes early will only stress the interviewer out, as they will be scrambling to finish their tasks so you’re not waiting too long. If you do arrive early, grab something to drink at a nearby coffee shop, or stand outside the building and give your notes another once-over, but do not check into the reception area any earlier than a few minutes before your scheduled interview time.
2. You admit that you’re nervous.
You might think that admitting you’re nervous will show the interviewer that you’re relatable (and hey, only human!), but this is actually a really bad idea. The interviewer is well aware that job interviews are a nerve-wracking situation, but you want to portray yourself as a confident, poised candidate, even if your heart is secretly racing. You should always exude as much confidence as possible — and if not, fake it til you make it!
3. You treat the interviewer like a friend.
In today’s exceedingly casual workforce, it’s normal (and even expected!) that both parties will do a little social media stalking beforehand, which means you might learn all about your interviewer’s go-to coffee order or see photos from her wild bachelorette weekend before you even meet. But no matter how cool she might seem, this is still your first meeting with your potential boss, so you must display professionalism at all times. Yes, even if she used emojis in her emails to you, or you’re around the same age, or you both love Game of Thrones. This is someone that you will likely end up reporting to should you get the job, and you should behave accordingly.
4. You dress too formally — or too informally.
As many offices these days shift from a traditional dress code to a much more relaxed vibe, bringing up the dress code pre-interview can make for an awkward conversation, but it’s a crucial one. Your first impression is the most important one you’ll make, so you want to make sure you find the right balance. For example, in many creative fields, you would look awkward and out of place in a full suit, but you’d look equally out of place in jeans.
A good rule of thumb is to always dress nicer than you think you should (thanks, Lauren Conrad), but try to stick to the overall tone of the field and office atmosphere you’re interviewing in. It never hurts to ask ahead of time.
5. You tell the interviewer what you think they want to hear.
You know not to blatantly lie about anything on your resumé or your past experiences, but even just telling the interviewer what you think they want to hear is a definite no-no. It might seem like a good idea, especially if the fib is harmless — like a slight exaggeration of your skills level or that you have a true passion for something you’ve never even tried — but it’s not smart to provide an inaccurate representation of who you are. The truth will always come out in the end, and it’s not a great idea to start off a new job having to cover up a lie, no matter how small it might be.
6. You’re too honest.
We know, we just said that you should always be honest in a job interview. But here’s the thing: Being too honest is just as bad. Even if your current boss is a total tyrant, you should never actually admit that in an interview with your potential new boss, who will no doubt wonder what you might say about them in the future. It’s never cool to talk trash about your current company, coworkers, or boss, no matter how good it might feel in the moment.
7. You use too many buzzwords.
There are certain buzzwords we all use in a job interview that we know sound great but might not actually mean anything. Saying things like “I’m a team player!” or “I’m detail-oriented!” sound super positive, but are really just filler unless you’ve got solid proof to back them up. If you’re going to use these buzzy terms, make sure you have solid anecdotal evidence to go along with them, like the time you took one for the team on a major work project, or a specific way you’re dedicated to finite details in your position.
8. You’re an eager beaver.
While it’s never a good idea to seem too cool in a job interview, it’s also not a good idea to be overly enthusiastic either. Interviewers want to see a candidate that is engaged and excited about the position, but being too eager can read a little bit desperate. Treat the interview like an authentic conversation, and you’ll be much likelier to get a true feel for the company and your possible new colleagues, instead of trying to dazzle them with your charm and wit.
Job interviews are stressful for even the most seasoned executives out there, but if you treat each interview like it’s a learning experience both for you and for the people hiring you, you’ll feel so much better about presenting yourself in an honest, engaging way. Now print out those resumes and go get that job of your dreams, girl! You’ve got this.