The Dos and Don’ts of a Great Job Interview
If you’re getting ready for a job interview, you already know that preparation is key. Your skills and experience are critical, of course, but proper interview preparation is what allows you to present them confidently and professionally and get an edge over the other candidates.
From thoroughly researching the company and rereading the job description to practicing common interview questions and picking the right outfit, there are plenty of things you can do to boost your confidence and get yourself ready for the big day. Indeed, many factors come into play with a job interview, and it’s important to take a holistic approach as the big day draws nearer.
However, there’s only so much preparation you can do in advance—eventually, you’ll have to sit down with your interviewer and answer a bunch of questions. We’ve all heard them before. Why do you want to work for this company? How do your education and previous experience qualify you for this job? What are your weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in five years? What was your greatest contribution or accomplishment in your previous job? Why did you leave it?
You should give these answers some thought and rehearse your responses, preferably with another person, so that you’re not scrambling for words when the day comes. These questions can take many different forms, but interviewers always look for the same type of information, so learning how to recognize what a given question is really about is also important. That way, you can transfer the answers you rehearsed to the questions you’re actually being asked.
Recording yourself while you practice for the interview (whether alone or with a friend) can be hugely helpful, but working with a professional can give you an edge over the competition. If you want to receive constructive feedback from an expert, your best bet is to set up a mock interview. If you choose to work with our team, we will create the ideal environment to test-run your job interview skills and provide detailed feedback on your strengths and weaknesses, along with insightful tips on how you can polish your delivery for a more successful interview.
So, what are some of the dos and don’ts of a great job interview?
Do be present and listen carefully
It’s easy to let anxiety get the better of you in stressful situations such as job interviews, which can lead to rambling, going off on a tangent, or (worst of all) oversharing. Sufficient preparation can do wonders for your confidence, helping calm your nerves as you sit in front of the person with the power to shape the next stage of your career.
Listening closely and maintaining eye contact will give you a stronger presence, and paying close attention to the questions the interviewer is asking is the only way you can answer appropriately. Studying job interview strategies and techniques before the big day will familiarize you with the different forms a question might take, which prepares you to navigate the interview smoothly and skillfully however the interviewer may conduct it.
Be present and listen carefully to everything being said, pay attention to the interviewer’s speaking style and pace, let them know you’re listening by engaging with them, and actively retain the information they’re giving you. These are important communication skills in any setting, but they have particular importance in a job interview.
Don’t be a Chatty Cathy
A great benefit of listening attentively is that you’re less likely to talk too much or overshare. It’s common for people to blurt things out to break an awkward silence, and learning how to control that urge is a key skill to have, especially in a situation such as a job interview. If you talk too much, the interviewer will likely be able to sense your nervousness, which won’t help your case. Plus, communication skills are important in any job, and an interview is a prime opportunity to demonstrate that you can handle yourself properly in social situations.
Also, remind yourself that you don’t need to tell the interviewer more than they’re asking you to—you only need to share as much as is necessary to convince them that you’re the right person for the job. If you overshare, you risk inadvertently revealing information that taints their impression of you.
You’ll also want to be mindful of the way you speak and the vocabulary you use. You don’t want to sound too casual or too familiar, swear or share personal opinions on sensitive subjects, and be too loud or imposing. Depending on how you usually speak, adjusting your language for a job interview could require a good deal of conscious effort, so be sure to practice in advance so that you can interact with the person before you smoothly and confidently.
Again, match the interviewer’s style and demeanor, and remember that this is a professional setting, so use appropriate language and tone. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be yourself, but you should speak and act with consideration for the circumstances. Don’t go overboard, though—using overly stiff or formal language is also socially inappropriate.
Do be aware of your body language
Given that so much of our communication is non-verbal, it’s crucial to be aware of your body language during a job interview. Even if you think the interviewer won’t notice the subtle cues your body language is giving, they probably will—they’re specifically looking for what you’re saying without speaking.
You want to project confidence and appear comfortable in your own skin, so be mindful of your posture, facial expressions, and any nervous tics that might flare up when you’re under pressure.
Don’t cross your arms, sit on the edge of the chair, slouch, tap your feet or fingers, play with your hair, or bite your lip. Sit up straight with a good posture, maintain eye contact (but not too much lest you come off as creepy), and generally try to relax your body as much as possible. Focusing on what the interviewer is saying will help you channel your energy into giving them the best answers possible and alleviate your anxiety.
Don’t be arrogant
While you want to project confidence, be careful not to cross the line and appear cocky. Remain humble, modest, and professional, but don’t be afraid to sell your skills and experience to get the job. Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and lean into them—acknowledge what you bring to the table and why you’re a good candidate without boasting or disparaging others.
If you’re naturally shy or reserved, don’t overcorrect too much—it’s usually better to be quiet than to be boisterous, which can be interpreted as being difficult or hard to work with. Besides, acting in accordance with your temperament will come naturally to you, and interviewers are good at sensing inauthenticity. Be yourself and be assertive, but be conscious of the balance.
In job interviews, as in life, you usually get only one shot at making a strong first impression, so prepare, practice, and perfect your interview skills before the big day to give yourself the best chance of landing the job. If you already did the interview, reinforce your professionalism by sending the interviewer a thank-you note—reach out to our experts for help with crafting a superb follow-up letter that solidifies the great impression you made!