3 Sneaky Job Interview Killers You’re Probably Unaware Of

Have you ever left an interview feeling like you nailed it only to learn you weren’t invited back for a second interview or offered the job? You were probably confused or upset. Maybe even both.

There could have been a valid reason. Another candidate was more qualified or the hiring manager was looking for a specific person. But what if it wasn’t those things? What if you killed your interview with mistakes you weren’t even aware of?

Here are three surprising interview missteps that might cost you the job:

You’re too agreeable

When an interviewee is too agreeable, it’s a red flag to hiring managers. This might seem strange because headhunters and recruiters instruct clients to position themselves as “yes men,” but being too agreeable actually tells interviewers that you’re a pushover, desperate or have trouble making your own decisions.

Granted, there’s a balance. You don’t want to appear high maintenance by being disagreeable. So what’s the solution? Be honest. If you agree with something an interviewer presents, agree with it. But if you disagree, thoughtfully express your opinion.

Interviews aren’t exclusively for hiring managers; they’re also how you decide whether the company is a good fit for you. If you find yourself disagreeing with everything the hiring manager is saying, it might be time to move on.

You scheduled your interview too early

When it comes to interview scheduling, the first interviewee is at a distinct disadvantage. Sometimes your interview is determined by the “luck of the draw.” If not, try to schedule your interview later in the timetable.

Doing so will ensure that your interview is top of mind when hiring or next-round decisions are made. Hiring managers rarely hire the first person they interview unless the rest of the applicant pool is noticeably less qualified.

You’re over-prepared

Going into an interview without preparing is an obvious faux pas. But did you know that over-preparing can also be harmful? When interviewees over-prepare, they become inflexible and impersonal—almost robotic.

Every individual interviewer has a style. It’s important to pay attention to the interviewer’s conversational cues and follow his or her lead. You can ask your recruiter or others who have interviewed with the company about the tone of the interview so you know what to expect. The more you know about how your interview will be structured the better you can prepare for it. 

How to Avoid Killing Your Interview

Job seekers often fall prey to these mistakes because of inexperience, nerves or poor self-awareness. Although hiring managers won’t hold shaky nerves against most applicants, it’s always a good idea to refine your interviewing skills. Here are a few tips for developing your abilities:

Go to more interviews

Practice may not always make perfect, but going to more interviews will help you streamline your answers and tactics. And with each additional interview, your jitters will dissipate.

Obviously you hope to land your next job as quickly as possible, but you can learn something from going to one or two more interviews. Sitting in front of people who are firing questions at you is intimidating, but the more you do it the more comfortable you’ll be firing back great answers. Use a planner to organize all of the critical information such as interview dates, interviewer names and details about prospective jobs.

Practice with friends and family

Some of your most honest critics are those who care about you. Give your loved ones a list of questions and have them ask some of their own. Keep the structure of these “interviews” light and conversational. This will help you draw on positive, relaxing thoughts when you’re experiencing the real thing.

Research tips and best practices

You can find tons of helpful interview tips online. Seek out articles from reputable, certified HR professionals that outline their best interview tips. These professionals have conducted numerous interviews during their careers, and they can help you sharpen your skills.
You should also research the company before the interview. Have a couple key tools in your back pocket such as knowledge of recent initiatives the company executed or its future objectives, and bring them out at strategic times.

Job-hunting can be a challenging process, but it goes much more smoothly when you have great interview skills and are prepared. Continue to work on your interview tactics, and avoid sneaky interview killers. With each interview you’re one step closer to your dream job, so enjoy the ride, and get ready for your next job victory.

Melissa Cooper is the executive vice president of the writer network Top Resume, a Talent Inc. company. A triple-certified résumé writer and dual-certified HR professional holding both SPHR and PHR designations, Melissa has eight years of executive recruiting experience and over six years of professional résumé-writing experience.