Before cofounding Solemates, a brand of women’s shoe care products, in 2009, Becca Brown worked at Goldman Sachs for almost six years.
Brown, who has a bachelor’s from Harvard University and an MBA from Columbia, spent a lot of time interviewing job candidates at Goldman, where she held various roles including analyst, wealth adviser, and chief of staff. She was also part of the investment bank’s Harvard recruiting team, she says.
“I interviewed anywhere from 20 to 30 job candidates a year, so in total, I interviewed over 100 people at Goldman Sachs,” she tells Business Insider. “And this was the biggest mistake candidates made: They would try too hard.”
“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 explains. “Information that a candidate conveys during an interview should be presented in a conversational way, not in a robotic way.”
Another reason this mistake is so common: “Interviews are stressful, and not everyone handles nervousness easily or well,” she says. People often try to conceal their anxiety by acting overly confident — but the interviewer can usually pick up on this, Brown explains.
“How a candidate handles that stress is in and of itself a performance indicator,” she adds. “Stress management is a part of any job, whether you’re on a trading floor or factory floor.”
So do what you can to stay calm — and always be yourself. “Don’t try too hard to impress the interviewer or hide your nerves … sometimes doing those things will end up hurting you more than they help. It’s really about managing yourself if you want to make the best impression,” Brown concludes.