The Seven Deadly Sins

Executive placement expert Heidi Rustin details the worst mistakes women make on job interviews.



Getting hired isn’t always easy. But women may have it harder than men, says executive recruiter Heidi Rustin of New Rochelle.
As Managing Director at Manhattan-based Herbert Mines Associates—Rustin has scouted, interviewed, and placed top senior talent at firms such as Coach, Vera Wang, and The Children’s Place. She recently identified seven deadly sins that women often commit that can sabotage their chance of getting a job.

1. Treating your interviewer as a friend
“The person you’re interviewing with is not your best friend,” Rustin says. “Interviewers are going to try to get you to open up, but the point is to know where the boundaries are. Share, but don’t overshare.”

2. Badmouthing your former employer
Since any interviewer represents your next potential employer, any disparagement will be seen as a red flag. “Say that you didn’t see eye-to-eye with the CEO on strategy, but don’t be overly negative,” Rustin advises.

3. Taking too much credit
"It’s important to share credit with your entire team,” Rustin says. “Otherwise, people will wonder what kind of team player or leader you are.”

4. Displaying timidity and a lack of confidence
“Women tend to be more modest,” she says. “It’s good to say, ‘I’m good.’ And you should articulate your accomplishments and take pride in them.”

5. Falling behind the times
Rustin says that staying “relevant and modern” can be an especially big challenge for women, especially those who may be re-entering the workforce after caring for their children for a number of years. “Don’t dwell on the good old days. Educate yourself.”

6. Dressing up or down
“Don’t underestimate the power of personal style,” Rustin says. “Research the dress code for the company.”

7. Sending the wrong message about work-life balance
Since working women often have a multitude of obligations that extend beyond the office, Rustin says many approach lifestyle-related questions in the wrong way. “Never ask what are the hours. Instead, ask the interviewer to describe the office culture, and whether there are a lot of working women in the office.”

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