When you need job interview help, these job interview dos and don'ts will help you win in your future job interviews.
It's easy to go wrong in a job interview. But after investing all the effort into developing a resume and cover letter that gets you in the door for an interview, you definitely don't want to blow it when you're finally face to face with the hiring manager, do you?
Don't worry... you can follow the tips for interviews on this page and you'll be on your way to interview success!
On this page, I'll go over a number of things that are good to do in job interviews (the DOS). But I'll also cover some things that could spell disaster for your interview if you are not careful!
I encourage you to take time to read and consider each of the tips on this page... the job interview help you find here could be your recipe for job interviewing success.
Pay attention here... these job interview helpful tips could make you an interview star!
Arrive on time–or better yet–10 minutes early. Better that you be kept waiting, than the other way around. It WILL be noticed when you show up early, and though they may not be quite ready for you, they will be impressed by your motivation.
Refer to the interviewer by name. You should be told who you're interviewing with at the time the interview is scheduled, so make note of it and bring the name with you. If you can find out who this person is in the organization, all the better. If you can't find out ahead of time who'll be interviewing you, then find out when you get there. Again, write down the name and use it frequently during the interview, like so, "Thanks for asking, Julie (or Mr. Jones or however they are introduced)..." Using the recruiter's name shows you care and also puts things on a more personal, warmer level.
Smile and use a firm handshake. Everyone looks more pleasant, attractive and confident with a smile on their face. Don't believe me? Look in the mirror with a smile vs. a more neutral face. See what I mean? Also, if you're nervous, a smile can help you overcome your fear. Don't just sit there grinning like a hyena, however! Keep it real... A firm handshake will also go a long way towards communicating your confidence and direct attitude.
Be alert and act interested throughout. This seems like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised to learn that there are people who come to job interviews tired, hungover or just not all that committed to the process. Never consider a job interview to be a routine task that doesn't matter. It matters! So act like you care. Really listen to what the interviewer says and asks you and respond in kind.
Maintain eye contact at all times. As a shy person, I understand that it can be painful to look people directly in the eye, especially when you are super nervous, as many people are during job interviews. But you're going to look kind of "shifty" if you have trouble maintaining eye contact during the interview. They say our eyes are the windows to our soul, and if an interviewer can't look you in the eye, they're going to wonder (at least on some level) what you're trying to hide. If looking into their eyes is too hard, then focus on their lips. They won't be able to tell the difference.
Make all comments in a positive manner. It's important to stay upbeat and positive during your job interview. Try to frame every answer to every question in as positive light as you can, while keeping it real... and honest. This is not the time to complain about past employers or jobs or co-workers.
Speak clearly, firmly, and with authority. If you do so, you come off as confident, direct and trustworthy. Don't cross the line into arrogance or cockiness, but do get comfortable with talking about your strengths and how hiring you will benefit the company. You have to learn to toot your own horn, without coming off like a braggart. It can be a fine line...
Accept any (non-alcoholic) refreshment offered, provided it's liquid. Believe me, you'll be glad you have something to whet your whistle when your nerves inevitably make your mouth go dry or your throat to get scratchy. Keeping your hand on the glass can also help you from getting "fidgety", plus you might use taking a sip as a delaying tactic while you gather your thoughts on how to answer a question. Accepting refreshment also portrays you as relaxed, friendly and not uptight.
Promote your strengths. If you don't toot your horn, who will in an interview? You can't just let your record "stand for itself." There's too much at stake. Prepare ahead of time by thinking carefully about your unique talents and strengths, the things that set you apart from the crowd. And then prepare to talk about them in a matter-of-fact way.
If you focus on the tips above, you should do quite well in just about any job interview. But no job interview help page would be complete if it didn't also emphasize some of the ways you could go wrong or get off on the wrong foot, any way. So, be sure you keep reading...
Be overly aggressive or egotistical. While it's important to be direct and confident, you don't want to go overboard. There is never a place for anger in an interview... or even frustration, impatience or annoyance. Put your best foot forward... put on a happy face... whatever it takes. And also, while you have to get comfortable with talking about yourself in a positive way, you also don't want to come off as self-centered or arrogant. Maintain some humility and modesty.
Spend too much time talking about money. Generally, it's not a great idea to talk salary at an interview, at least not from the get go. If the interviewer opens the topic, it's fine. And towards the end of the interview, it would be permissible to ask about salary ranges, benefits, etc. But you don't want to make it look like the only thing that matters is how much they'll pay you. Get the facts and move on to the next topic.
Act uninterested in the company or the job. No matter how it seems, the job interview is NOT "all about you." Yes, it is the chance for the employer to learn more about you, but in the context of how their company will benefit from hiring you, not the other way around. In other words, it's not what can they do for you? It's what can you do for them?
Act defensively when questioned about anything. It is the interviewer's job to ask you tough questions and to put you on the spot. First off, they need to make sure that taking the risk of hiring a relatively unknown person is going to pay off. Secondly, putting you on the spot is a way to test what you are made of and how well you'll hold up under stress, which is always a good trait to bring to any job. So be prepared to discuss gaps in employment, lack of skills, frequent job changes or whatever red flags your resume might have raised. Be as honest as you can and give complete, not evasive, answers.
Speak badly about past colleagues or employers. As stated earlier, there is NOTHING to be gained by communicating anything negative about your past work history, even if it is justified. Certain situations may require an explanation that could put someone in a bad light. If that happens, then just describe what you need to in as factual and non-emotional a way as you can... and then move on, if possible.
Answer with only yes or no. You've been invited to an interview, so the employer can get to know more about you. So don't just answer with yes or no to questions. Expand on your thoughts a bit. Stay focused and be concise, but do open up and provide thoughtful... and complete... answers.
Excuse your bad points about work history. We all make mistakes and do things we regret later on. It's part of life and being human. So own up to your mistakes and any negatives in your work history; don't make excuses or try to cover things up or minimize them. But DO go on to emphasize what you learned from your past mistakes and how you're working hard to avoid such missteps now and in the future.
Ask for coffee or refreshments. While it's perfectly OK – even advisable – to accept a glass of water or cup of coffee/tea if it is offered, you should never ask for refreshments. They are not there to entertain you. If your throat is dry, you could ask for some water, if absolutely necessary.
Excuse yourself halfway through the interview, even if you have to use the bathroom. It is not acceptable for you to interrupt an interview to run to the restroom or take a phone call. Turn your cell phone off before entering an interview, including text messaging. Arrive early and ask to use the restroom before the interview is timed to start, if you must. Don't drink a big cup of soda 5 minutes before you get there. If the flow gets interrupted during an interview, you may find you emerge from wherever you went for a "break" to find that the interviewer has has enough and is ready to bid you goodbye.
Succeeding at job interviews isn't rocket science... be yourself, be courteous and respectful, talk openly and honestly and express interest in the place that is thinking of hiring you, and you should be fine.
For more job interview help and help with other aspects of the job hunt, be sure to explore the various pages of this site.