The Dangers of Overselling Yourself

By: Together Abroad 08-09-2017

Categories:* Daily employment news, * Personal Branding,

The goal of a job interview is to show that you are the interviewer’s best choice. Just repeating what is on your CV will not help the interviewer much. During the meeting, it is your job to show the opposite party how you differ from other candidates. Also, you have to ensure that the interviewer realises they need you for the job.

Last week, I spoke with a client who struggles with job interviews. He was used to showing his resume, have a quick chat about hours and wages etc., and either accept or refuse the offer. Nowadays, he was asked all kinds of questions he did not see the point of. Especially questions about his qualities and achievements, which made him shut down. He was afraid that the employer might find him cocky if he would start talking about those. Besides, his CV was self-explanatory, right?

A resume is not a self-explanatory document; recruiters wish to learn more about the candidate, hence the request for a few examples. However, in providing examples of oneself, the chance of overselling yourself increases.

Effects of Too Much Talking

Only claiming to be able to do something does not really sound convincing. Giving detailed examples of achievements to back up your claim of being able to do something is better. But the danger lies that a sincere explanation can turn into an endless ramble.

Talking too much can be the result of stress, overconfidence or desperation of landing the job—possibly giving the interviewer the false impression of someone who is trying too hard, or worse, someone who is just bragging. Either way, the interviewer will lose interest in you. The difficulty is that recruiters do not always show this during the interview.

Avoid Rambling

Avoiding overselling yourself is not difficult. It may require some training, but the most important thing to remember is that an interview is a two-way conversation. It is not a question and answer session.

Obviously, the recruiter will be asking questions. After all, they wish to know more about the candidates they have invited. It is also important to ask questions in return, and to inquire after their initial question. For example, the first question often asked during an interview is: tell me something about yourself. It is very tempting to dive straight into the answer, letting loose of the build-up tension. But what is it that the other party wishes to hear? There are two possible answers to this question; the interviewer wishes to know more about your personal life or to know more about your professional life. Do not decide for the interviewer by giving your desired answer; instead, ask what he has in mind.

Inquiring after the desired answer to the question Tell me something about yourself is rather straightforward. However, checking your answer with the recruiter can also apply to questions where you are asked to give an example. Keep the answer concise, by using the STAR technique. Afterwards, check if the example was sufficient or if further details are necessary.


The purpose of the interview is not a one-man show to prove how awesome and perfect you are. It is a method for both parties to get a better understanding of the other person. The interviewer has questions prepared, and it is equally important as an interviewee to have a couple of questions ready, too. For example, inquiring after the company, the job tasks, and the culture of the company. Most importantly, the questions need to be genuine.

Overselling yourself can be avoided as long as the interview is treated as a dialogue and not a monologue. Inquire if you have understood the question correctly, and check if the answer given is sufficient. And be genuinely interested in the other party.

Cecile Koster

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