Clothing, body language and manners count big time for interviews. After all, interviewers are regular people like the rest of us, easily impressed by good behavior and just as easily offended by inappropriate behavior.
Below are tips on how to act before, during and after interview, to avoid offending interviewers and increase your chances of landing a job.
Do your homework: Research the company before you interview, as your interviewer will likely ask what you know about the company and why you want to work there. It also helps you to formulate questions about the company, and interviewers typically expect you to have such questions.
With a friend, relative or by yourself, practice answering the other common questions interviewers ask.
Neatly arrange and carry your papers and work samples in a nice briefcase or portfolio. This makes you look organized and professional.
Practice good hygiene, comb or brush your hair, and dress appropriately. Even if you know what the company dress is business-casual, dress up anyway. It shows professionalism and respect.
Dress conservatively and avoid bright, flashy colors. If you’re a male, wear a business suit and tie (or at least a blazer with a pressed dress shirt and slacks), and polished dress shoes. Get a professional haircut or trim. If you’re a female, wear a business suit (or at least a dress blouse and long skirt or pants), with polished, low- to medium- heeled dress shoes and minimum jewelry. Style your hair tastefully.
For some of you younger folks, facial jewelry, paganish attire, purple-streaked and liver-colored lipstick may be cool for hanging out in espresso cafés and music stores, but they are not yet acceptable for interviewing in most corporate environments.
While it not be in your country or origin, body odor is offensive in most of the countries. Wear underarm deodorant when interviewing.
Don’t wear strong perfume or cologne. Fragrance is a matter of personal preference and your interviewer might not like your choice. It’s best to have no smell at all. A few minutes before the interview, a little breath spray might not hurt, but don’t wreak of it or use it during the interview.
Unless otherwise instructed (e.g., to fill out a job application), arrive about ten minutes early for the interview. This shows that you are eager and punctual. But don’t’ be too early, as it might be an inconvenience for your interviewers. Definitely don’t be late.
Don’t bring uninvited guests, like pets, children or significant others.
Turn off your cell phone, pager and other devices that might interrupt your interview.
Smile, offer a handshake immediately, introduce yourself, and say something like, “I’m pleased to meet you.” or “I’ve been looking forward to talking with you.” Be sincere, not phony or cool, and put the homeboy greetings and another contemporary coolness on a back burner. While “Dude? Wassup?” might be cool among your young friends, it’s likely not among corporate interviewers. Take the polite, conservative route.
Reed the mood. If the interviewer is formal, then you probably should be, too. If the interviewer is casual, then follow along while remaining courteous and professional. In either case, try to appear to be relaxed, but not too relaxed. It’s not a good idea to like put your feet up on the interviewer desk!
Wait to be told to take a seat or ask if may, then say thank you. This shows good manners.
If it’s possible, bring your chair closer to the interviewer’s desk, like you’re ready to dive right in. This shows confidence. But don’t invade the interviewer’s personal space.
Sit with good posture. If you don’t know what to do with your hands, keep them folded in your lap. This is another indication of good manners. Avoid crossing your arms over your chest, as it subliminally demonstrates a closed mind to some.
Even formally- trained interviewers are regular people like you, so they’ll expect you to be a little nervous while sitting in the hot seat. Still, try to avoid obvious signs like fidgeting.
Maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Avoid staring or you might make the interviewer uncomfortable, but don’t look away too often either. To some, failure to maintain a comfortable level of eye contact indicates that you are lying, reaching for answers or lacking confidence.
Don’t eat, drink, chew gum or smoke, or even ask if it’s ok. But if the interviewer offers coffee or other beverage, it’s ok to accept. It’s probably better to say no thanks to snacks (unless you are at an interview meal), so you don’t accidentally drop crumbs in your lap, be forced to talk with your mouth full, and all that other stuff your mom told you not to do with your food.
Speaking of witch, if you are attending an interview meal, do follow all the good eating manners your parents taught you. For example, put your napkin on your lap, don’t order anything complicated and messy to eat like ribs or crab legs, avoid bad-breath foods like garlic and onions, chew with your mouth closed, keep your elbows off the table, and order only moderately-priced items from the menu. Definitely don’t order cocktails. Let your interviewer pick up the tab and be sure to thank him or her for the meal.
Typically, you’ll negotiate salary, benefits, perks and such in a follow-up interview. Regardless, don’t bring it up until it asked, yet be ready to discuss it an anytime. Benefit and perks are usually a package deal, but salary isn’t. There are lots of salary surveys on the Internet you can research to have a figure in mind.
Immediately send a thank-you letter to each of your interviewers. Sending thank-you letters is professional and courteous, and will help to make you stand out in the minds of the interviewers. Besides, many interviewers expect it. Email is perfectly acceptable these days, and the quickest way to get your thank-you letters in front of interviewers. Avoid Internet informal stuff, like emotions (e.g., happy faces), shorthand and acronyms (e.g., u foe you and TIA for thanks in advance). Whether you send it by e-mail or regular mail, observe professional business-letter standards.
Be prepared to attend two or three interviews at the same company. If you’re called back for another interview, it means that they’re interested in you. But they’re also narrowing the competition, so keep up the good work!
If you don’t hear from your interviewers in about a week or 24 hours or so after they said you’d hear from them, it’s okay to call or send letters of inquiry, asking about your candidate status. One round of calls or letters is sufficient. Don’t pester, as the squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the oil in this case. If they’re interested in you, they’ll contact you without prodding, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure your candidacy didn’t fall through the corporate cracks. It also shows that you really want the job and are eager to start. If, after you prod them a tad, you still don’t hear back from them, write them off and concentrate on the next job interview.
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