5 job interview lessons you can learn from bad stock photos

Proceed with caution: The images you're about to see will definitely make you cringe—and send any hiring manager running.

5 job interview lessons you can learn from bad stock photos

There’s something hilariously sinister about a bad stock photo: the creepy frozen smiles, the circa-1998 attire, the seemingly inexhaustible supply of images involving large groups of people giving the thumbs-up. It’s like someone tried to explain human life to a socially awkward alien, who then went about recreating it using actors from Craigslist and a whole lot of fluorescent lighting.

These photos populate our favorite websites, magazines, and public safety pamphlets. There are gazillions of them—and if you’ve ever looked at a stock photography site, you’ll likely have been overwhelmed to the point of tears at the endless scroll of posed pictorial possibilities. As we here at Monster know all too well, there are thousands upon thousands of related to job interviews alone. After a while, they all seem a little same-y.

But look a little closer: Here, amidst the awkward handshakes, gray suits, and blank smiles are lessons to be learned that any job seeker would do well to take to heart.

Curious? Join us as we venture deep into the stock vault—and up your interview skills in the process. Thumbs up?

1. Limit your resume to one page

This one’s a classic, and the off-kilter, horror movie-esque perspective here says it all. An overlong resume can really turn off an interviewer or recruiter.

Maybe not to the point that they’ll let out a gasp of terror, like the subjects of this image, but enough that they might consider why, exactly, you felt the need to include that job you had cleaning plates at Camp Treestump back in middle school.

Instead, tailor your resume to the job at hand, and keep it tight—a single page will evoke more generic smiles. (If you need help getting it there, you can always upload your resume to Monster for a free critique from one of our pros. Just sayin’.)

2. Keep hand gestures to a minimum

Remember what we said about people in stock photos giving the thumbs up? We didn’t even begin to discuss another prominent feature of the form: the indecipherable, painfully unnatural poses. We may never know what exactly was intended to be going on in this photo. Like a work of modern art, its precise meaning remains inscrutable, defying easy interpretation.

What we do know, however, is that you should never do what this guy is doing during a job interview. While it’s great to show enthusiasm, you probably shouldn’t badger your interviewer into giving you a high-five across the table. (That’s our best guess about what exactly is going on here, at least.) Your interview body language shouldn’t be talking louder than you are.

3. Don’t talk too much

We know, we know. The whole point of an interview is for you to talk and prove to the hiring party that you’re the best person for the job at hand.

But there’s a difference between talking and flat-out babbling.

Make sure you’re actually answering the interviewer’s questions, not just filling the room with empty chatter and sleep serum.

To avoid having your interviewer collapse on the table in front of you, maybe start with this outline of interview talking points—and run yours by your beloved or bestie right before bedtime. If he or she snoozes, you lose.


4. Stay confident

We’ve all felt like this guy: small, insignificant, scrutinized by an enormous man in a swivel chair. Don’t let those feelings get to you.

In an interview setting, you need to fight against the tide of self-doubt, the internal critic telling you you’re not smart or experienced enough or have a weird-looking face and nobody in their right mind would ever hire you.

Try these interview stress-relief exercises before you get to the big moment. The goal is to help you maintain your composure—even if you’re sitting, like this fellow, in what appears to be a chair for babies—and remind yourself that if you hadn’t already piqued the employer’s interest in some way, you wouldn’t be here.

5. ...but don’t get too cocky!

Okay, confidence has a limit. And throwing your arms behind your head while you creepily eyeball your interviewer is probably not your best move. No matter how prepared you are, how eminently qualified, don’t act like you’re doing a potential employer a favor by letting them talk to you. (Also, who doesn’t think this photo could have been improved with some armpit sweat stains?)

Prove that you’re the best person for the role with a combination of carefully chosen words, illustrative examples, and a positive attitude. And then when it’s over, you can safely go home and say what it so clearly looks like this job seeker is about to: “Who has two thumbs and nailed their interview? THIS GUY.”