If you have made enough of an impression and been fortunate enough to make it to the interview stage of a job application; firstly, congratulations – whilst it’s great that you’ve already impressed your potential employers in some way, you still have the pleasure of mentally preparing yourself for a face-to-face meeting where you must be; alert yet calm, knowledgeable yet not arrogant, and interesting yet professional; as in all walks of life, balance is key. In keeping with the Christmas theme, Santa has formed a list of the “do’s” and “don’ts” for interviewing; so make sure you keep on the nice list!
Smiling: To most, this goes without question. Smiling and nodding (where appropriate) illustrates enthusiasm and displays your personality in a good light. Laughing alongside the interviewer, within reason, also demonstrates that you are a friendly individual who is paying attention to what is being said (Ho! Ho! Ho!)
Asking Questions: There must be a balance between asking questions so that you come across and inquisitive and eager to find out more, and asking too many questions that you come across as inexperienced, and have not done your research. Interviewers love when interviewees seem genuinely interested in their business, so always ensure that when they ask you if you have any questions for them, you have at least one interesting one in mind.
Dressing for Success: Unless informed otherwise, you should always turn up to an interview in formal attire. Although we are always told we should “never judge a book by its cover,” first impressions have a huge impact, especially in an interview situation. If two people show up for an interview with similar qualifications, but one is wearing a smart suit and the other shows up wearing a tracksuit; it doesn’t really take a genius to guess that the candidate who makes the most effort will, 9 times out of 10, be offered the job.
Having an opinion: This final ‘do’ for interviews which made it on the nice list, is a bit more complex. Yes, you should come across as being on the “same page” as the interviewer and you should not dispute what they have to say, but providing a different opinion is what can set you apart from the competition. Potential employers are looking for fresh ideas so showcasing these in an interview can pay off, demonstrating that you have original thinking and can deliver in the role you are interviewing for.
Slouching: Whilst you don’t want to be sat clenching your fists in your lap and sat rigidly upright, you also do not want to be viewed as too relaxed by hunching forward as if you are bored and uninterested. Your potential employer could be watching you from the moment you walk into the reception area; so, ensure that your posture conveys confidence and enthusiasm. Sit up straight, but make sure you are comfortable so that it comes across as natural. When the interviewer asks you questions, it is also effective to ever-so-slightly lean in towards them; this gives a sense of curiosity and active engagement.
Bending the truth: Don’t make any false statements during an interview – it simply isn’t worth it! Even “embellishing the truth” about your capabilities can come back to haunt you. If you are offered the job as a result of “bending the truth,” when you are given certain tasks, (that you can’t consequently execute) you will only end up embarrassing yourself.
Long pauses/filler words: over-using fillers such as “um,” “uh” and “like” does not portray you in the best light; you either come across as too nervous or unprofessional. Similarly, whilst a short pause before responding to gather your thoughts is fine, long pauses signify that you are perhaps underprepared. Simply ask for a clarification if you don’t understand the question.
Showing up late: Showing up even a few minutes late for an interview is likely to have a negative impact on an employer’s impression of you, no matter how well you do in the interview itself. This has often been compared to professional ice-skating; no matter how flawless the rest of your routine is, if you fall at any point, your overall score is dramatically affected. Obviously, some situations are out of our control, so if you know you are going to be running late make sure you contact whomever necessary as soon as possible and sincerely apologize.