The impression you give on a social level is slightly different than on a job interview. On a social level, your goal is to get a positive acknowledgement that the person you are meeting isn’t weird. Sounds funny but on a personal level, people are initially usually expecting a simple exchange of words and body language to establish normalcy and then look for areas of common interest. If the normalcy bar is reached, the people will invest more of their time establishing a relationship in another. Below the bar (weird level) and people look for the exit.
In a job interview, you are under review and being judged by one with the power to literally change your life. Sounds ominous but not to worry, remember, the other person invited you to interview because they want to hire someone. If you aren’t weird, have the right credentials and present a positive first impression, you have a great chance of nailing it and getting the job.
So let’s look at a few things you can do to better your chances:
(You are on your own with the weird issue)
Do your homework on the company
First, Google the company and explore their website. There are two reasons to research a potential employer. First, make sure the organization is somewhere you want to work. Is the chemistry right for you? If it isn’t, success in landing the job will likely end in a short stint at the company and too many short-term jobs on your resume isn’t good. Second, be prepared to ask and answer questions about the company.
- If the company has a blog, read it. Look over the website and to get a feel for their products and how they market them. Look at their “In the News” section to be aware of major happenings at the company.
- If you know someone who works at the company, talk to them about the other people there and the work environment. If you know who will be interviewing you, Google them and also check out their LinkedIn profile.
- At the end of the interview ask the person if you could take a copy of the company’s handbook along to review. Salespeople call this “assuming the sale”.
While a lack of preparation is one of the biggest sources of anxiety, a well-prepared attitude may be one of the best relaxation techniques available. A positive attitude is contagious, spread yours around. Successful interviewing is all about passion and emotion. People remember positive attitudes, but they never forget fearful or negative ones. Be aware of your emotions and anxiety and before the interview, listen to some music or do some breathing exercises to get into a relaxed frame of mind. Avoid nervous body language like crossing of the arms or clutching your hands in front of your stomach. Look at the interview as a fun experience and it will likely become one.
- Offer a firm handshake
- Maintain eye contact
- Maintain good posture
- Be respectful. “Yes Sir/Ma’am No Sir/Ma’am” show respect
- Give positive non-verbal communication (smile and nod head when in agreement)
- Let the other person do a lot of talking
- Don’t criticize, condemn or complain about past employers
Regardless of how many interviews you have been to or how many you have scheduled, treat each as the last one you will need to go to. Look the part of someone a company would want to hire. A good rule of thumb, often used by successful salespeople, is to dress one level above the person you will be meeting with. In today’s business casual world, that means dress shirts and slacks for men and dresses or pant suits for women. Business casual should be the minimum level of dress for any job. A business interview is not the time to wear your best club clothes.
An employer will appreciate that you have intuitively known the proper dress and grooming. A banking or investment firm will likely mandate more formal attire, so anticipate that and show up accordingly. At many startups and design firms, the college look of tee shirts and sneakers are common. However, they will appreciate the importance you have given to the interview if you show up in business casual.
Remember – Good luck comes to those that bring it
A job interview is about showing a potential employer that you have the required skills and attitude for the job. It is also about demonstrating to the hiring person that you come without baggage and will fit into the company’s culture and its plan for success. Treat the interview as an opportunity to share how great you really are.