After writing a powerful cover letter and designing a dynamic resume layout filled with great content and expressed convincingly, you are called for that all-important interview. Depending on where you are on your career path, this could be the most important day of your life to date and you want to make the most of it. As an established fact, you will be nervous – that’s just natural. Almost everyone in the same situation is jittery to one degree or another. You will feel like you are on the proverbial “hot seat”, maybe you perceive the whole event as more like an interrogation. It is important that you relax; relax and visualize success. If you have prepared yourself well by thoroughly studying the job posting, analyzed yourself to know who you are and what you are good at, and visualized the situation and some possible questions that you have formulated answers for, then you have done all you can to be ready mentally for the challenge ahead. But there are still some tips that will add to your confidence and make that first impression as positive as possible.
Enough cannot be said about the preparation of yourself. Be well bathed, and gentlemen that means clean shaven. If you have a beard, make sure it is properly trimmed. Use deodorant. Look yourself over well. Avoid strong scented perfumes or colognes; your interviewer might have a sensitivity to them which would make the time in the interview room uncomfortable for him/her. Stand in front of a mirror and look at what you are wearing, check your fingernails for cleanliness, and your hair to make sure it is tidily styled. Avoid any foods in advance of the interview that might negatively affect your breath such as garlic or coffee. Fresh breath is a must and you only have one chance to make a first impression. Why is this all important? Well, people make opinions about others just by watching them. We convey a lot about ourselves in the way we look, move and conduct ourselves. The interviewer will make decisions about your personality just by watching your actions. Keep all this in mind during the interview process. Your best tactic is to portray through all your actions and words that your interested in the position, you are confident you can do the job and while in the interview, you are really paying attention.
There are some other points you should be aware of so during the interview you continue to reinforce that first good impression. When you enter the interview room, extend your hand to the interview and give a firm handshake, not one that will bring the person to their knees, but also not one that’s limp-wristed and weak. A good handshake presents confidence and openness. During the interview, always maintain good eye contact with the interviewer(s). Do not look down excessively, staring at your lap or shoes, or focus on something in the room on the wall or table. Look at the interviewer. For some people, this takes practice since you may feel intimidated and you fear you will lose your train of thought when answering a question or completely miss hearing the question at all. But connecting with your interviewer is vital and engaging with them is critical. They will conclude that your shyness is a lack of confidence and may impede you from performing well on the job.
Another important tip is your posture during the interview. It is important that you sit upright but not rigid; do not slouch, or lean forward on the table. The former can convey a lack of interest and the latter can be perceived as too aggressive and intimidating. It is acceptable to use your hands to express yourself, but do it in moderation. Too many hand gestures can look theatrical and superficial, but using none at all makes you appear inflexible and stubborn. Avoid just fiddling with your hands. That can be an annoying practice. No jiggling of one leg or tapping your toe on the floor, and avoid general fidgeting of your body which gives away to the others in the room that you are uncomfortable.
Speak with a voice volume that can be well heard. No need to over project but do not speak too softly which sometimes happens when you are nervous. Nervous laughter is annoying and should be controlled. The interviewers need to be able to concentrate on your answers and this laughter can be detrimental. And above all else, smile and look pleased to be there even though inside you may not. It will make you look friendly and someone they want to have as part of their organization.
All this may seem like a lot to keep in mind, but if you use these suggestions as best you can, you will find that your chances of success in getting that job will increase immensely.