In my years of experience as a recruiter, I’ve encountered countless talented candidates. Yet, talent alone doesn’t always guarantee a successful outcome. Here’s a cautionary tale that I often share with my candidates to emphasize the importance of humility and professionalism.

I recently had a candidate with a shining resume and a glowing track record. He sailed smoothly through two phone interviews — one with the regional manager and another with the VP of sales. The feedback was unanimous: they were impressed. The company, poised for significant growth, saw him not just as a fit for the present role but also as someone with the potential for future leadership positions.

However, the narrative took a sharp twist during the in-person interview. Instead of using the opportunity to forge a meaningful connection, the candidate began by flaunting the number of other interviews he had lined up, name dropping companies and setting up anticipated offers, finally culminating with a question, “What can you do for me?”

One hiring manager, a former candidate of mine, described the encounter as her worst interview experience. She conjectured that since he had been in his current role for a mere seven months — possibly a wrong career move — he was perhaps overcompensating for his perceived vulnerabilities. Rather than conveying confidence, he came across as desperately trying to leverage his marketability. It was an absolute train wreck.

The most astonishing aspect was his self-perception post-interview. He genuinely believed he had done an exceptional job. So absorbed was he in showcasing his desirability in the job market, he overlooked the very essence of an interview: understanding the role, showcasing relevant skills, and asking meaningful questions.

This manager, while acknowledging his qualifications, declared she would never hire him. His ego had cast a shadow so vast that it obscured his evident skills and expertise.

When I eventually debrief with this candidate, it will be a delicate task. Yet, his experience underscores a universal lesson I want every candidate to internalize: Your skills and qualifications get you in the door, but it’s your humility, genuine interest, and professionalism that will seal the deal.

In our journey to find the right job, we must strive for the perfect equilibrium between confidence and humility. Remember, it’s not just about securing a job, it’s about building lasting professional relationships. Always ensure your game overshadows your ego.