Job Seeking Pitfalls – 4 Signs You Are Trying Too Hard

Job seeking is tough. It requires being thoughtful, prepared, organized and politely persistent. At times, a candidate’s well-intended efforts can turn into an annoyance for the hiring manager and become the reason a company does not pursue them further. Here are four signs you are trying too hard and are at risk of being rejected.

Showing up too early. Yes, it is critical to be on time for an interview. The general rule of thumb is to arrive at the building 15 minutes early. This ensures you have time to find parking, collect your materials and thoughts and potentially check in with security if it is a large building or company. You should enter the lobby of the office five to seven minutes before your interview time unless instructed differently.

Why only five to seven minutes? First, many small or midsized offices have a greeting area that is in the general workspace (or pretty close to it). Arriving early obligates an employee to stop what he is doing earlier than planned to either greet you, get you set up in a conference room, make conversation with you or to work silently while you are staring at him for an uncomfortable period of time until your interview. It may also make the interviewer feel like she should change her schedule to meet with you earlier – as opposed to letting you sit idle for 15 to 20 minutes. Finally, the very early candidate often passes his time by looking at his phone. Although we all use our phone to kill time, it is not seen as professional or powerful to be hunched over reading social media when your interviewer walks in the room. Arriving too early puts you at risk of falling into the idle time trap.

Excessive or pointed follow-up. You should follow up after applying for a job or completing an interview – but not aggressively or with pointed questions. An email after applying to verify your information was received or a thank-you note within 24 hours of an interview work well. After that, you should take a more calculated approach. Ideally, you can find out at the time of submittal or interview when decisions regarding next steps are likely to occur. For example, “Thank you for meeting with me today, Bob. I am very interested in the role. Can you tell me about the timing for selection or when may be a good time for me to follow up?” In the absence of this guidance, five days after an interview is acceptable for a polite, “Thank you for your time last week. I enjoyed learning more about the Customer Service Manager role and am very interested in continuing in the process. Please let me know if I can answer any additional questions or provide references. I appreciate your consideration.”

Emails or messages like, “I haven’t heard back from you regarding the Customer Service Manager position. Can you give me an update?” tend to make the recipient feel guilty or annoyed. Guilty or annoyed people usually avoid the source of their discomfort. Although there is a time for being direct when you would like to hear back about a role, a more ingratiating and positive approach works best.

Being a yes man or woman. Managers hire professionals with whom they have a rapport. Rapport is established with a healthy balance of back and forth conversation and trust between the parties. People who quickly agree to everything that is said can seem too needy and disingenuous. When you try too hard, you evoke a human instinct of concern as to why you need to try so hard. Are you hiding something? Are you lacking in your own thoughts? In short, being too eager to give the right answer comes across as false. “Chemistry is what you are talking about,” says Monster interview expert Marky Stein, author of “Fearless Interviewing.” “Having a natural conversation essentially makes the interviewer feel comfortable, and therefore makes him or her like you. It’s the human element. It’s all about the chemistry.”

Too intense – vocally and in experience. It can be tricky for an interviewee to balance representing his background confidently without coming on too strong. Talking too loudly, laughing too quickly or representing your background as “transformational” or “exceptional” cause concern for most interviewers. Hiring is about minimizing risk. No one wants to feel duped, so the overly intense communicator or someone with too grandiose experiences and accomplishments is viewed skeptically. The challenge of coming on too strong is that once the audience distrusts you, there is no coming back. You can be enthusiastic, passionate and accomplished provided you are also authentic, engaged and responsive to your interviewer’s body language.

Hiring happens when there is trust, respect, and rapport with someone who is qualified and interested. Actions that erode trust, respect and rapport result in disqualification during the interview process. The key is to be politely persistent and engaged but to be thoughtful in your approach and to maintain authenticity.


By Robin Reshwan, Contributor |Oct. 10, 2017, at 11:06 a.m.

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