US News and World Report published a truly excellent piece explaining some of the major mistakes and missteps made by job applicants. In this age of high competition for a scarce number of jobs, there are very small margins for error in the interviewing process. Even things that seem like positives (showing up early for example) can be negatives. Other things we may not even think about – like talking too much – are also potential deal-breakers. The US News and World Report list include: 1. Little things count. Candidates often act as if only “official” contacts, like interviews and formal writing samples, count, but hiring managers are watching everything, including things like how quickly you respond to requests for writing samples and references, whether your email confirming the time of the interview is sloppily written, and how you treat the receptionist. 2. We don’t want you to try to sell us. It’s a turn-off when a candidate seems overly focused on closing the deal, rather than on figuring out if the job is the right fit. No hiring manager wants to think she’s being aggressively sold; we want the best person for the job, not the pushiest spiel. 3. We’re judging how you’re dressed and groomed. 3.In most industries, a professional appearance still matters. You don’t need to wear expensive clothes, but showing up in a casual outfit or clothes that don’t fit properly, having unkempt hair, or inappropriately flashy makeup can harm your chances. 4. We might act like we don’t mind you bad-mouthing a former employer, but we do. We’ll let you talk on once you start, but internally we’re noting that you’re willing to trash-talk people who have employed you in the past and are wondering if you’ll do that to us too. What’s more, we’re wondering about the other side of the story—whether you’re hard to get along with, or a troublemaker, or impossible to please. 5. You showed up too early. Many interviewers are annoyed when candidates show up more than five or 10 minutes early, since they may feel obligated to interrupt what they’re doing and go out to greet the person. Some feel guilty leaving someone sitting in their reception area that long. Aim to walk in five minutes early, but no more than that. Go have a look at the entire list and sound off in the comments if you’ve ever made any of these mistakes.