Job interviews can be stressful and tedious, or they can be exciting and informative; in the end it really depends on how you handle the situation. In order to look confidence and feel self-assured, you need to effectively communicate your professionalism both verbally and nonverbally. Here are my top suggestions for job interview do’s and don’ts:
1. Always dress appropriately. Your style of dress will let your potential employer know how serious you are about the position. Even if you are interviewing for a position in a more “casual” industry, always err on the side of conservative. Your personal grooming and cleanliness should be faultless.
2. Know where you’re going ahead of time. Make sure you know the exact time and location of your interview. Besides looking up directions, make sure you know how long it takes to get there and whether or not there will be traffic. Try to always arrive 10 minutes early.
3. Make a good first impression. Some employers can usually spot the right candidate within the first 30 seconds, and that’s mostly because of body language. It’s important to be confident, but not arrogant. If you walk in with a smile and give a firm handshake, you’re letting your potential employer know right off the bat that you are a strong candidate.
4. Maintain good eye contact throughout the interview. Even if you are feeling intimidated during the interview, do not look down at the floor or at your hands. Eye contact is an important indicator of conviction, which is something your potential employer is looking for. Remember that maintaining eye contact is not the same as staring. Generally, 60% eye contact is deal; if there’s more than one person in the room, make eye contact with each person.
5. Be honest. Answer each question thoughtfully and truthfully. Do not embellish your experiences and skills because eventually you will get caught in your lie. Employers who have been conducting interviews for years can usually tell whether or not a person is being insincere. Don’t be afraid to just be yourself. Describe things about you that demonstrate your talents and skills. However, think about each answer before you speak; people who are nervous tend to over-answer questions.
6. Don’t forget to ask questions! At the end of each interview, your interviewer will ask if you have any questions for them. The answer should always be yes; not asking any questions shows a lack of interest. It’s very important to do research about the company before the interview. In fact, some employers might ask you questions about the company, so you’ll want to be prepared. Ask intelligent questions about the job, company, or industry.
1. Don’t forget to turn your phone off. If you want to keep your phone on silent, make sure that the vibration setting is off. This shouldn’t even have to be said, but don’t ever (seriously, ever) answer your phone or respond to a text during an interview.
2. Don’t cross your arms. This may be hard for some people, but crossing your arms during an interview tells your interviewer that you are closed off, closed minded, defensive, or even bored. Even if you have a habit of crossing your arms, try your hardest to keep your arms at your side or in your lap. Crossing your arms is probably the most widely known negative piece of body language.
3. Don’t fidget. Most people fidget when they are nervous, and it can manifest itself in many forms: face touching, leg shaking, hair twirling, and nail biting. While you can’t stop yourself from doing these things all the time, you must stop during the interview. All of these actions imply that you’re either nervous or dishonest. Some interviewers might even read your fidgeting as a desire to end the interview as quickly as possible.
4. Don’t make negative comments about past employers. No matter what problems you may have had with previous employers, keep it out of the interview. You don’t want your prospective employer to think that you are a bitter or resentful person. The point of the interview is to talk about the potential position and what you can bring to the company.
5. Don’t interrupt the interviewer. Even if you think it’s your turn to speak or that you get where the interviewer is going with the question, give him a chance to finish. Being interrupted is both annoying and unprofessional. Do your best to maintain eye contact and show you are listening intently. Interrupting could be misinterpreted as pompous behavior, and you don’t want your interviewer to get the wrong impression of you.
6. Don’t nod constantly. Oftentimes when people are confused or not really listening, they nod constantly in order to make it seem like they are paying attention. Some people believe that nodding in agreement at everything the interviewer says will get them bonus points. This is not the case during an interview. While it’s ok to nod in agreement when you genuinely agree with something, nodding constantly makes you look weak-willed or condescending. By constantly nodding at everything, you also risk being asked a question that you can’t respond to.
Remember not to be so focused on this advice that you overwhelm yourself during the interview. Use these tips as guidelines, and don’t forget to practice before the interview. After the interview, maintain your best interview attitude until you are away from the building.