9 Do's and Don'ts of Interviewing for a Job
Job interviews can be stress fests or fun, exploratory missions, depending on your mindset. The truth is, you should be evaluating your potential employer with the same scrutiny as they're evaluating you. Communication and thoughtful preparation are necessary prerequisites. As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Keep scrolling for our favorite do’s and don’ts for nailing your next interview.
A huge part of interviewing is determining how well you will assimilate into the new culture and manage demands of the job. If your approach feels rigid and inflexible, this could signal an employer you lack the skills to recalibrate and improvise in an unknown environment. Have an outline and key talking points mapped out, but keep it loose. You want to come off as upfront, sincere, and engaged, rather than contrived.
Studies show taking up more physical space and possessing open, “high-power” body language signals confidence and leadership. In fact, two minutes in a high-power posture can increase testosterone by 20 percent and lower cortisol level by 25 percent. At your interview, refrain from folding your arms across your chest or slouching. Sit up straight and lean slightly forward in your chair. Your stance should be engaged and interested. Mirroring the body posture of your interviewer can also convey agreement and mutual respect.
The interview process should be a dialogue not a monologue. While it pays to be assertive, it’s crucial to read the room. Be mindful of the fact that most interviews take place in the middle of the workday. Go in with an attitude of curiosity and openness. Ask yourself what your interviewer might be most interested in hearing from you. It’s likely they are already aware of your on-paper qualifications. Focus on being a good listener and easy communicator.
In these modern times, business casual can mean jeans and a T-shirt. Many workplaces take relaxed dressing to the extreme. Regardless of how laid-back the office vibe is, look sharp. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Lay off heavy perfume or intense styling products. Choose an outfit that is comfortable yet polished, and leave the uber-trendy pieces at home. Fashion can be an effective form of non-verbal communication—just make sure your ensemble is not diverting attention away from the primary focus: your abilities.
From self-aggrandizing banter to salary inflation, assume all the information an employer could possibly cross-check is public domain. Trustworthiness is of the utmost importance to employers. Keep everything above board. If anything on your resume reads as less than exemplary, address it openly with a non-defensive, forthright tone.
Chances are at the conclusion of the meeting, your interviewer will ask if you have any questions. This is a time to shine, demonstrating that you’ve done your homework and taken all aspects of the job under consideration. Prepare a list of thoughtful follow-up questions. In a first meeting, steer clear of overemphasizing benefits and paid time off; save the perks for a follow-up meeting. Stay focused on the job itself. What specific leadership qualities are most essential for success? Is there anything missing in the current culture that they are looking to cultivate?
Coffee jitters can boost anxiety, making you seem edgy, especially if you’re already nervous. Leadership and discernment are naturally attributed to individuals with lower cortisol levels. Opt for green tea or extra water. Two glasses of water can have the same energy-boosting benefits as a cup of coffee. Vitamin C also naturally lowers cortisol levels and manages stress to keep you on an even keel.
Send a follow-up email or handwritten thank you within 24 hours. It’s common courtesy and good manners. Be gracious and thankful for the opportunity, regardless of the outcome. An attitude of gratitude goes a long way!
No matter how grueling or soul-crushing your previous employer, sounding off on the shortcomings of a past gig can seriously backfire. Come to the table with solutions, not problems. Putting a negative spin on your work experience might make you seem like you’re not a team player, and that you lack accountability, or are just plain indiscreet— none of which will get you hired.
Have a favorite interview tip? Tell us in the comments below.
Opening photo: Twentieth Century Fox