Job interviews give many people a serious case of stomach butterflies. And the more high stakes the position is in the interviewees’ mind, the more their nerves get frazzled. However, letting anxiety create an all-or-nothing mindset about job interviews harms, not hurts, the chances of success.
The bottom line is that every job interview is a contract negotiation. As a prospective hire, the interviewee must sell their talents and abilities in order to come to an agreement that benefits them as well as their new employer. Treating job interviews as negotiations helps calm nerves and allows job candidates to act with the confidence and positive attitude necessary to make a lasting impression, and the following tips will assist in that endeavor.
1. Honor their time
Tardiness to a job interview gives the prospective employer the impression of laziness and lack of consideration for their time. Plan to arrive at the interview site a few minutes ahead of schedule. Add at least 15 to 20 minutes to the estimated drive time to account for traffic, accident delays and getting lost, as navigation software isn’t foolproof. If you arrive too early, simply grab a coffee at a nearby shop before reporting to the reception desk.
Make an entrance no more than 10 minutes prior to the interview start time to prevent rushing the interviewer. If the meeting takes place via Skype or phone, call or go online just a minute or two before the scheduled interview — but test all equipment well beforehand.
2. Remember that courtesy starts at the reception desk
Reddit abounds with tales of those who treated someone disrespectfully only to find that they were speaking to a person who could influence hiring decisions. Who wants to stumble across their most embarrassing interview story online?
Treat everyone you encounter at a prospective workplace with the same courtesy expected by the CEO. This behavior shows good manners. More importantly, the receptionist may be the boss’ go-to for advice — and they won’t speak highly of a candidate who treated them like a bit of gum stuck on a shoe. The same goes for answering the phone when a scheduler calls: Be polite and respond with a respectful, “This is ____,” not a wisecrack.
3. Do your homework
Prepare answers to common interview questions before the interview, and practice responses with a trusted individual. Preparing answers in advance eliminates the dreaded, “Uh…”
Likewise, research the company to get a feel for their corporate climate and mission statement. Impress the interviewer with knowledge of their priorities.
4. Smile and shake hands
Confidence radiates from a smile, so wear one when you’re meeting an interviewer. Likewise, wash your hands or use sanitizer to eliminate sweaty palms. Remember, prospective employers are equals with a need that your service will fill.
When you’re interviewing on the phone, wear a genuine smile while greeting the prospective employer. Without visuals, a smile still gives a friendly but professional impression, even influencing your voice.
5. Have an elevator pitch
The toughest question in many job interviews is well-known: “Tell us why you’re right for this position.” Have an instant comeback by perfecting an elevator pitch that highlights your unique talents. The response will come naturally if it’s practiced in advance — just avoid sounding like a robot or someone reading a script.
6. Make eye contact
If you fail to make eye contact, it can give the interviewer an impression of insecurity or even incompetence. While looking someone directly in the eye feels uncomfortable after a bit, focus on looking at the middle of their forehead, right between the brows. Doing so allows for eye contact that doesn’t feel like a middle school staring contest.
7. Have questions ready
At the end of every interview, ask follow-up questions, as not doing so indicates a lack of interest in the position. Good questions include, “Describe a typical workday of someone in my position,” and, “I’d like to make sure I am a good fit for your company culture. I saw that your mission statement includes _______. Can you describe the personality type you most enjoy working with?”
8. Say thank you
Always thank the interviewer for their time — this step is basic courtesy. Sending a thank you note shows the interviewer strong interpersonal skills and serves as a reminder of you as they make their hiring decision.
Rocking job interviews like a boss
Job interviews make everybody a bit nervous, but addressing all questions professionally and competently, as well as following proper etiquette, can land you the job of your dreams. Get ready to impress your new boss!