Photo: College of DuPage Newsroom / Flickr
Photo: College of DuPage Newsroom / Flickr

Most candidates focus too much on trying to impress the interviewer with the “right” answers. In especially competitive job posts where it’s difficult to differentiate among the hundreds of over-qualified candidates, the obsession with trying to show off your knowledge may backfire.

The tendency to overshoot during an interview is all too common. In the race to display how knowledgeable you are about the specialty area, many people drift into interactions that seems more robotic than conversational. This is very off-putting, according to Becca Brown, who interviewed over 100 candidates at Goldman Sachs.

“I interviewed anywhere from 20 to 30 job candidates a year, so in total, I interviewed over 100 people at Goldman Sachs,” Becca told Business Insider. “And this was the biggest mistake candidates made: They would try too hard.”

Quick Takeaway
  • During an interview, don’t “try too hard” and talk at your interviewer
  • It’s more important to speak conversationally, and let your knowledge tactically diffuse through

Becca worked at Goldman Sachs for six years, where she interviewed people for all sorts of positions, before founding her own company. She is now running Solemates, a company that sells shoe-care products to prevent heels from sinking into the ground. Throughout her career, she noted that this “trying too hard” attitude is all too common.

“It’s a common mistake — and it’s tricky — because as a candidate, you want to impress the interviewer, and show that you’ve done your homework, but sometimes that can come across as a little too overdone, or worse, rehearsed,” she says. “Information that a candidate conveys during an interview should be presented in a conversational way, not in a robotic way.”

It makes sense. Let’s say you’re choosing between two candidates who have similar education, experience, and background. During the interview, one of them is tense, leaning forward in his chair, and speaks rapidly about various knowledge about the topic that he has learned.

The other candidate, is laid back in his chair, leaning slightly back but not slouching, and talking slowly and steadily. Even though he doesn’t seem to reveal as much knowledge, you keep prodding him for a deeper answer, to which he always answers back in a professional and steady tone.

The less competent person is eager to show his knowledge, while the more competent one is relaxed knowing that he is the right one for the job.

It doesn’t take an expert to identify which is the preferred candidate. Chances are the company already likes your background to give you an on-site interview. There’s no need to try so hard to impress the interviewer. The important thing is to relax and demonstrate that you’re a competent and professional person to work with.