How would you describe your job-seeking mindset? If it is close to one of these four examples, you are probably turning off future employers!

Is your job-seeking mindset turning off employers?

Have you ever given any thought to how your job-seeking mindset could be perceived in an interview situation? Have you ever actually thought about what your job-seeking mindset might be?


You know I have interviewed hundreds and hundreds of candidates throughout my career and there are a few mindsets that are quite common. You might think that your thoughts are your own, but as you will see in this post, what you are thinking is shining through in your interview - whether you like it or not!

Let's start by identifying the four most common mindsets that turn me off as an interviewer.


What it looks like:

  • You are qualified and you have some really great experience, but you are full of self-doubt. You've convinced yourself that you won't get the job, before you even walk into the interview room.
  • You struggle to articulate your skills and experience to your interviewer and for a moment there, you consider just getting up and walking out of the room because you don't want to waste anyone's time.
  • You're feeling way underprepared and to be honest, you probably just shouldn't have applied for the job in the first place.

How YOUR JOB-SEEKING MINDSET comes across to others:

Dude. I mean this is in the nicest possible way, but you really need to address these confidence issues because I am sure that your job interviews are not the only things that are suffering. I know that interviewing is nerve-wracking and most people would prefer not to have to go through it, but it is a part of life and no matter how painful you find the interview process, you absolutely CAN do it!

If I was interviewing you and you came across as a nervous wreck with low self-confidence, it would create a lot of questions. I would be asking "How will you cope in front of my clients?", "Will you have the cojones to handle difficult situations?", "Do you trust yourself enough to take initiative?", "Will the stress of the role be too much, even if it is not a typically stressful role?"

Put simply, if you can't convince yourself that you deserve the job, you are going to have a really hard time trying to convince me.

If you can't convince yourself you deserve the job, you'll have a hard time convincing me.

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What it looks like:

  • You are a highly skilled individual and you meet all the minimum requirements for the role. You've got this one in the bag. For sure.
  • You're super confident in your skills and experience and you have no problem articulating this in an interview. I mean, interviews are really just a chance for you to get a feel for the company, to see if you would be interested in working for them. Of course they will want you. You have the goods. So many goods they will probably just offer you a job on the spot.

How YOUR JOB-SEEKING MINDSET comes across to others:

As an interviewer, I love confidence. It literally gives me goose bumps when someone is able to sell themselves effectively in an interview setting. I love hearing about people's strengths and finding out more about their experience and when they can communicate it with conviction, I get excited.

What really rubs me up the wrong way though, is cockiness. So what IS the difference between confidence and cockiness? To be confident is to be sure of yourself and your abilities. It is absolutely okay to talk about your strengths and be proud of what you have achieved in your career. To be cocky is to be over-confident. Cocky people brag about themselves and are often know-it-alls. The biggest problem with cocky people? They often don't recognise this behaviour in themselves OR they find it perfectly acceptable. Heads up kids - it's not.

On more than one occasion I have been in the situation where a cocky person has tried to turn the interview around. That's right - they have started interviewing me! Here it is in black and white my friend: If you can't be interviewed, you can't be managed and I don't want trouble makers on my team. What about for a sales role? If you make me feel greasy in your interview I am going to go ahead and assume that my customers will feel the same way. This is 2015 and ain't nobody got time for that. When I am looking for sales people I want them to be authentic, knowledgeable and committed to customer service.


What it looks like:

  • You are so unhappy in your current role that it hurts.
  • You hate your boss (she is a real bitch!) and quite frankly you are over your colleagues too. The whole situation sucks. They wouldn't approve your annual leave and they have been making you stay late and they keep giving you all these boring tasks to do. And on top of all of that they don't even pay you very well. 
  • You know you shouldn't whinge and complain about your current employer in your interview, but they did ask you why you are planning to leave and you couldn't NOT answer the question. Right?

How YOUR JOB-SEEKING MINDSET comes across to others:

Well, I don't know whether to feel sorry for you, question your integrity or get out my tiny violin. What I do know is that I have given you half an hour of my time and an opportunity to convince me that we should work together and you have spent that time complaining about your boss.

When you demonstrate extreme negativity in an interview it is not a good look. You may have endured some terrible hardship in your current position and maybe you have even been treated unfairly. But bringing that misery into an interview with a potential employer WILL make them question whether you will also bring it to a new role. It will also make them wonder, quite naturally, if YOU are the problem.

You are having trouble with your supervisor, your colleagues, your work tasks and your level of remuneration - what is the common denominator? You. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that you ARE the cause of these issues, but negativity breeds negativity, so better to frame yourself in a light where this will not be a consideration.

Negativity breeds negativity. Leave it at the door - it doesn't belong in your interview.

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What it looks like:

  • You are unemployed or maybe just unhappy where you are, but you have been looking for a new job for ages. Basically you are at a point where you are desperate.
  • You'll take any job, no matter the salary, even if it is way below your level of experience. You just need to find something and then you can keep looking until you find your dream job.
  • You fake a smile, nod your head in overwhelming agreement with everything your interview says and assure them that you have absolutely no salary expectations and that you are willing to work for minimum wage. Or peanuts. Or maybe a combination of the two.

How YOUR JOB-SEEKING MINDSET comes across to others:

I know what it is like to feel desperate and to really need to find a job. I absolutely get it. You have bills to pay, you need to put food on the table and you might even have a family to support. But think about it from an employer's perspective. If you come across as desperate an interview, it suggests that you aren't necessarily interested in the role, you aren't coming to the organization with the same passion as someone who is CHOOSING to work here and I am concerned that you are only going to stick around until something better comes along.

So, I have to say. I do hope you get a job. I hope that this job-seeking process is swift and that you don't have to deal with the ongoing stress of being unemployed or unhappy. BUT. I am running a business and if I am not truly convinced that you actually want to work with me AND that you are going to stay for a while then I am not willing to take the risk. Training a new employee is expensive, from both time and money perspectives and I can't afford to keep recruiting for the same position.


Congratulations. I have said it before, but the first step to improving is recognising where you need to improve. As you start to build your awareness around your particular mindset, you will find it easier to squash any negative behaviours. Here are two quick tips to help you knock these guys on the head:

  1. Preparation is always key. I cannot reiterate this enough. Think about the questions that you might be asked in an interview setting and then plan some generic responses that you can tailor to suit these questions. If you know you are harbouring some negativity towards your current employer, think of a way to frame your reason for leaving that doesn't come across as a whinge-fest. If you have realised that your cockiness is not your best quality (well done!), how can you tone it down so that you are still explaining your strengths without being too over the top?
  2. Work on changing your mindset. Preparation can be a great way to MASK your mindset, but it is important to work on CHANGING your mindset so that it doesn't continue to affect you moving forward. Remember that we are just focusing on job interviews in this post, but a bad mindset can impact on other areas of your life too! We have talked before about faking it until you become it AND seeking professional help where needed. Good old fashioned positive affirmation and self-talk can also go a long way towards helping you flip your mindset.


Just mark that behaviour as unacceptable and stop it. Fancy a good laugh? Check out this video - it had me in stitches!

Stop it.

Do you recognise any of these job-seeking mindsets as your own? Perhaps you recognise them in other people? Tell me about it in the comments! See you next time... but until then.... STOP IT! 


About the Author


Bec McFarland is an experienced HR practitioner, manager, career coach and the creator of Pop Your Career. She delights in sharing practical, straight to the point career advice, spending time with her family and eating Mexican food.

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