Guide for Job Interview
In this article you learn simple strategies for presenting yourself in an interview setting as a competent, savvy business professional.
The Professional Image
While it isn't realistic to attempt to recreate your personal image overnight, it's certainly wise to take the time to add some polish and panache to your business behaviors before setting foot in an interviewer's office.
A large part of presenting yourself as a responsible business person is your conduct during the interview. Let's walk through a typical job interview scenario and address some ideas you can use to make the interview run more smoothly.
Many qualities factor into the professional, business-savvy image you want to create: etiquette, enthusiasm, courtesy, and simple common sense.
Personal Preparation before the Interview
You have prepared a catalog of your credentials, formulated answers to tough questions, and chosen the appropriate wardrobe for your interview. Be sure to prepare your person as well.
1. Don't sabotage a potentially great interview performance with poor hygiene. Since interviews tend to be sweaty situations, a thorough shower, shampoo, and shave on the day of the interview are highly recommended.
2. Be aware of good oral hygiene on the interview day. Use mouthwash at home, and take a breath freshener or breathe mints in the car with you to pop into your mouth when you arrive.
3. If a haircut is due, schedule time to make it happen before the interview.
4. Throw your chewing gum in the trash before walking into the building. Chewing gum in an interview appears sloppy.
5. Don't smoke a cigarette in your car or outside of the building just prior to the interview. It leaves a telltale unpleasant odor on your clothes and in your hair.
Projecting Success: The Beginning of the Interview
The interview begins when you walk into the front door of the building. Be alert to the impression you are making on everyone you meet.
While waiting for the interview to begin, be pleasant and courteous to the receptionist. Do not interrupt his or her work with copious small talk, but a few cordial comments can't hurt. You might stick with something totally noncommittal, such as the weather, or a completely inoffensive remark, such as, "What a panoramic view you have from the lobby!"
1. Be alert and responsive from the moment you arrive in the building. Smile at everyone who passes you in the lobby. Your potential co-workers may be checking you out incognito.
2. When meeting the interviewer for the first time (perhaps you have been waiting in the lobby area), stand and shake his or her hand. Do not remain sitting unless specifically asked to do so. Standing to shake hands shows alertness and enthusiasm.
3. Allow the interviewer to initiate the handshake. Make yours firm and friendly, not weak and wimpy or overly aggressive. You may appear domineering if you extend your hand first.
4. Don't wear a coat if the weather is at all bearable. This saves the awkward "coat shuffle" when you arrive, and it avoids the embarrassing possibility of forgetting it on your way out the door.
5. Allow the interviewer to lead the way back to the office or conference room in which the interview will take place. Walk confidently: Stand up straight and do not hesitate.
6. Don't sit down in the interviewer's office until a seat is offered! This is merely common courtesy. You might ask, "Where would you like me to sit?"
7. Accept a cup of coffee if it is offered. This is a good idea even if you aren't a coffee drinker. It will set the mood of the interview on a more casual and relaxed level. But...
8. Don't ask for a coffee refill or for cream and sugar unless they are initially offered. (In other words, don't make the interviewer get back up or go back to the coffee room after he (or she) has already fetched your coffee for you.) The same holds true if the interviewer has had someone else bring the coffee. If you don't like it black, too bad. You are there to be interviewed, not to enjoy a cup of coffee. Also...
9. Don't request alternative beverages such as tea, juice, or water. If the interviewer asks, "Would you like a cup of coffee?" you should reply, "Coffee sounds great, thanks." If you don't like coffee, you never even have to take a sip.
10. Don't make any reference to the interviewer's (or anyone else's) appearance. Greeting someone with, "Boy, are you tall!" or "You are younger than you sounded on the phone," is completely inappropriate. Even positive comments, such as, "I like your jacket," or "Nice tie," are not a good idea.
Projecting Success: The Middle of the Interview
Your answers to the interviewer's questions are important, but your words do not tell the whole story about you. Watch your body language.
1. Never explain that you are nervous; it makes you look as if tough situations befuddle you. If you feel that you must buy yourself time to settle your nerves before you answer a question, just say, "Let me take just a moment to give that some thought."
2. Don't apologize throughout the interview for such imperfections as a sloppy resume, torn stockings, windblown hair, or lack of a pen or pencil. If an apology is necessary, such as for a late arrival, be brief but sincere and don't bring the subject up again. Too many apologies make you appear weak.
3. Don't perch on the edge of your chair or lean on the interviewer's desk. On the other hand, don't slouch so deeply into your chair that you look as if you're ready for a nap. Sit comfortably with your back against the back of the chair to look relaxed yet attentive.
4. Don't giggle or laugh nervously, when you have something to say it has more impact.
5. Don't fold your hands behind your head and lean back in the chair. This appears pompous.
6. Keep your legs still! Don't bounce your knees up and down or continually shift crossed legs. It's best to keep both feet solidly planted on the floor through most of the interview. An occasional cross at the knee or ankle is fine as long as it does not distract the interviewer.
7. Keep your hands quiet during the interview. Either hold a pen or pencil (don't tap it!) or keep your hands folded on your lap. Your hands reveal your nervousness if they linger around your face, pull at your hair, tap upon the table, or make other extraneous movements. You may, of course, gesture naturally with them when speaking or making a point.
8. Let your face break into a smile now and then. Job hunters are sometimes afraid that smiling makes they appear unprofessional or lightweight, but in reality, just the opposite is true. The interviewer sees you as relaxed, friendly, and comfortable in a business setting if you are able to smile.
9. Show interest in what the interviewer is saying. Respond with smiles, nodding your head, and small verbal affirmations such as, "I see," or "That sounds interesting."
10. Maintain good eye contact with the interviewer. Resist the temptation to look down at your hands, out the window, or out the open office door. Allow rapport to build and accentuate your listening skills.
11. Don't "close up" by folding your arms or clutching your briefcase across your chest.
12. Don't look at your watch or at the clock on the wall. It makes you look as if you feel there is something more important than your job interview.
Projecting Success: The End of the Interview
The interview ends when you walk out the front door of the building. Be gracious to everyone on your way out.
1. Allow the interviewer to close the interview. It is not up to you to decide when the interview is over.
2. When the interviewer stands up at the close of the interview that is a signal that you should stand too. He will probably then begins to usher you to the door.
3. You may initiate the handshake that occurs at the end of the interview. Express thanks for the interviewer's time and your interest in the position.
4. Say good-bye to all participants in the interview process who are still the room when the interview is over.
5. Maintain your confidence and composure until you are well out of the building. Never reveal that you found the situation stressful.
6. You may engage in small talk at the end of the interview. If it seems appropriate, you might ask about something in the interviewer's office that could spark a conversation, such as pictures, trophies, or knick-knacks.
These suggestions offer powerful ways to make you appear confident and adept in professional situations. Try not to be too self-conscious about your own body or personal movements. You might practice a few of the basic maneuvers, such as the handshake and confident gait, but it is also important to be yourself. Within certain limits, it is better to be relaxed and natural with the interviewer than to have perfectly planned movements that look rehearsed and stilted.
The Eight Personal Qualities Interviewers Look for Most in Job Interviews