Having a working interview can be very stressful to many people.
Working interviews are the professional equivalent of getting to know someone and making a decision based on first impression.
When we have limited time to evaluate someone, we use subconscious cues to help us create a first impression.
Therefore, it is important to learn the art of first impressions in order to conquer any interview you have.
This post will discuss subconscious cues that you can use to create a great first impression about yourself and nail the working interview.
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Before the Working Interview
There are things you can do before the interview as well as during the working interview.
Let us start with what you can do as a preparation.
The preparation stage contains 4 things:
- Knowing the company
- Knowing yourself
- Preparing a suitable outfit
- Having the right mindset
Let us begin with the first part, knowing the company and why it is important.
Why You Should Research the Company First
For many reasons, but most importantly, to see if this is a place you would like to be a part of.
You will perform better if you work for a place where you share core values with.
Another reason is that researching a company before a working interview can boost their impression of you.
This can be explained by subconscious cues.
When you research a company, it shows that you are interested as well as hardworking.
In addition, it says that you care where you work rather than simply wanting to work anywhere.
In other words, it also means you respect the company and that is always good.
One of my associates who worked in HR told me that they hated clueless interviewees.
One time, one of the interviewees asked him “so what does your company do?”
Not only was that respectful, it showed him that the person was lazy and disinterested.
It is now easier than ever to do an internet search and find out every thing you want to know.
So to not do so means you will take your job lightly and won’t take the initiative to figure things out yourself.
All this reflects poorly on your first impression.
How Can You Learn More About a Company
Larger companies now have their own Wikipedia pages that explain everything about them in addition to their own official website.
Small companies are now catching up too and are striving to have an online presence.
Therefore, you will always find background information about the company.
You can use this information to decide whether this is a suitable place for you or not.
You can do so by checking out the following:
- The company’s Mission statement
- The “Our vision” section
- The “About Us ” section
- Requirements for the position
- Financial statements
- Performance reports
- Pictures of employee gatherings
- Pictures of company events
- Online reviews
Moreover, you can ask other employees their opinion of that company.
All this can tell you a lot about the status and the internal environment of the company.
Rapid growth or high employee turnover rates can speak volumes about the environment in that place.
During the interview, you can mention the information you found about the company.
If you have any additional questions, you can note it down.
Now that we have talked about the importance of knowing the company, let us talk about knowing yourself.
Your main goal during the working interview is to sell yourself and your skills.
That means proving to them that you are worthy of the position and employment.
You can do that by:
- Leaving a great first impression
- Showcasing your best qualities
However, it is important to be honest and genuine about what you display.
We will talk more later about leaving a great impression.
To showcase your best qualities, you need to know what they are.
That means you need to know yourself well.
It sounds difficult at first but it is not.
Make a list of all your achievements.
Don’t forget to include personal achievements in addition to professional ones.
From each task that you performed, you can extract a skill or a strength that you have.
For example, successfully making a team for a group project displays leadership and communication skills.
Volunteer work displays desire to help, time management skills and commitment to hard work.
Going climbing again after healing from breaking your leg displays determination.
The examples could go on and on, however, the point is, everything you did, says something about you.
So make a list, find out what each task says and then rephrase it into a brief package that you can say in few minutes.
Don’t forget to also show yourself as a person.
Display honesty, interpersonal skills, wit and sincerity that show you are a good person to work with.
Make sure that what you say is reasonable and relevant to the job and the company.
If this is a stock broker position, your superb cooking skills are irrelevant in this occasion.
However, if you were asked how do you love to spend your free time, your cooking skills could display diversity.
Preparing Your Outfit
Now that you have sat with yourself and decided what you will display about yourself, let us talk about your chosen outfit.
For a working interview, your physical appearance and your choice of outfit say a lot about you.
Before you speak a word, people often create an impression about you from your appearance.
That is why it is important to prepare and choose your outfit well.
Make Sure That Your Clothes Are:
- Well fit
- Free of stains
- Not ragged or torn
- Solid colors (Black, Navy, White, Grey)
- Not of very bright colors
- Not having excessive prints
- Color coordinated
Make Sure That You Wear/Have:
- Clothes without dangling chains/items
- Conservative shoes
- Leather shoes and belts (Men)
- Skirt of appropriate length
- Pantyhose if the dress code is strict
- Limited jewelry (Women)
- Avoid dangling bracelets or wrist bands
- Small non-flashy purse (Women)
- Light make up (Women)
- Decent but not a strong perfume
- A professional hairstyle
- Polish your shoes
- Have a filed, clean nails
- Have a decently trimmed beard (Males)
- Avoid nail polish trends such as one nail one color (Females)
- Avoid chewing gum
Finally, the last stage of pre working interview preparation is dealing with your mindset.
The inner thoughts you have before the interview play an important role during it.
Confidence Is Key.
Let go of any fears or worries that you will not do good.
Practicing and rehearsing can help you as well.
Use the help of a friend or a family member to interview you as practice.
Practice how you will deal with mind blocks or shyness if you are shy.
It is also nice to prepare the answers to some common interview questions.
Here Is an Example of Common Questions Asked During Working Interviews:
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Why should we hire you?
- What have you been doing since your last job?
- What were your responsibilities at your last job (or at school, if this is your first job)?
- Give example of a challenge you faced? How did you deal with it?
- Describe your ideal work environment.
- Why did you leave your current job?
- What motivates you?
- How do you prioritize tasks?
- Do you prefer to work by yourself or within a group?
- Tell us a situation where you had to demonstrate teamwork or leadership skills.
- Tell us a situation where you set a goal and met it.
Now that you are all set, sleep early and wake up a sufficient time before the interview.
On the morning of the interview, take a shower and arrive at least 20 minutes early.
During the Working Interview
The working interview starts the minute you walk into that building.
Some companies ask other employees who escorted you and security guards their opinion of you.
Therefore, it is important to maintain a professional demeanor throughout, not just in the interview room.
Don’t eat any snack bars or gum during the working interview.
If this is a restaurant working interview, make sure that you order something that is easy to eat without creating a mess.
Sauce loaded pasta can be very hard to eat while maintaining a professional vibe.
Avoid ordering alcoholic beverages.
Many HR personnel stated how this notion during a working interview is considered irresponsible and undesirable.
Put Your Phone on Silent
This shows respect and professionalism.
Too many notifications will be distracting and unprofessional.
Listen Carefully Before Answering
Wait until the interviewer finishes the question before answering.
Don’t rush into answering questions before making sure you understood what is being asked.
It is okay to take a second to think or formulate the answer in your head.
Remain Calm If Things Are Not Going Well
Sometimes we feel nervous internally but that doesn’t always show.
If you start to panic that you are appearing nervous, you WILL get more nervous and it will show.
Avoid nervous body language such as fidgeting.
Try to calm yourself with subtle deep breathing.
It is okay to make mistakes.
Don’t let any negative thought conquer your mind.
If you mess up, carry on as if nothing happened and focus on making the rest of the interview go better.
If you panic at each mistake you do, this won’t be good for your performance.
So let it go and focus on being awesome.
Don’t Glance at Your Phone
It is not considered okay during a normal conversation to keep glancing at your phone.
The same goes for working interviews.
Glancing at your phone often shows boredom, lack of interest and commitment in the interview.
This will make them question your commitment to the job.
Don’t Look at Your Watch
This can mean you are nervous, in a hurry or bored.
All these three impressions are not good to display by this simple gesture.
Don’t Let It Turn into a Monologue
You can be passionate with lots to say, but give the interviewer a chance to speak as well.
Pause between your answers to give them a chance to respond.
Allow them the chance to ask you questions so that they feel they have found out everything they wanted to find out about you.
Sometimes you may not know the answer to a question and that is okay.
You can respond with “I don’t Know”.
Interviewers appreciate honesty.
However, make sure this isn’t the majority of your responses.
Moreover, it shouldn’t be the answer to questions like “why should we hire you?”, “what are your strengths”, etc.
If you freeze and appear very nervous during a working interview, they will doubt your ability to handle the pressures of work if you can’t handle a working interview.
Instead, remind yourself everything is going to be okay and practice at home before hand.
I mentioned earlier how subconscious cues can say a lot about you.
Likewise, your body language can say a lot about you.
Here is a list of Do’s and Dont’s during a working interview.
The greeting handshake is a great way to start your interview.
It shows you are confident, welcoming and professional.
If it is an interview panel, make sure you shake hands with everyone and not just the one closest to the door.
Make sure that your handshake is firm.
Neither bone crushing or too limp.
A smile goes a long way
Smiling is an easy way to show that you are calm, friendly and positive.
Positive Eye Contact
Eye contact is a great sign to show respect and interest.
Be careful not to stare.
If it is a panel of interviewers, make sure you exchange eye contact with all of them rather than focusing on the one you feel most comfortable with.
Use Hand Gestures
Hand gestures are a great positive body language tool.
It shows confidence and authority.
However, be careful with excessive or very wide ranged hand movements.
Nodding in agreement is a positive body language sign.
Nodding and smiling as appropriate is a good gesture to do.
Don’t Sit with a Poor Posture
Posture is a very important body language signal.
Avoid sitting with a slouched or poor posture.
Sit with your back straight and head balanced straight on your body axis.
You can lean slightly forward as it indicates interest.
Don’t Fold Your Arms
This position shows nervousness and defensiveness.
You should display a relaxed and open body language.
Don’t Cross Your Legs
After a while, you will want to uncross them due to blood obstruction but that can make you seem fidgeting.
Don’t Sit with a Rigid Posture
A rigid posture can display that you are tense.
Remember that you want to show you are confident and relaxed.
Communicating effectively can do wonders to your perceived image during a working interview.
The number one rule is to communicate honestly.
Don’t stretch facts or lie about your qualifications.
- Project your voice and words
- Speak clearly and with a suitable volume
- Don’t be monotonous.
- Speak with passion and enthusiasm
- Speak with an organized flow of thought
- Take brief pauses between your sentences
- Maintain an optimum pace
Things to Avoid Saying in a Working Interview
“My boss is awful.”
“My current company is awful.”
If you describe your past job or boss as awful, they can’t help but think you will do the same with this job.
If you want to explain why you left the past job, you can use positive sayings.
For example, I wanted to expand my experience or have a job that matches my potential/ level of skills.
“Can I take this call?”
Picture this: Your phone rings and your interviewers have to tumble their fingers while you tell Jared how you have been.
It is very unprofessional to interrupt the work interview with a phone call.
Moreover, your phone should be switched off or silent.
“I really need this job.”
This is a desperate and creative response to “why do you think we should hire you?”
“It is on my resume.”
When I hire people, this is such a red flag for me.
It tells me two things.
First, is that they are lazy.
Second, they are going to give me trouble with communication and it is important for me to communicate well with people I work with.
“What is included in your benefit package”
It is not wise to ask for such things while you are still at the screening process and don’t even have a job offer yet.
The same goes for asking for changes such as time changes or time off before you are even offered the job.
“Profanity and curse words”
I think this one is pretty self- explanatory.
Profanity during a working interview is greatly frowned upon.
“Sooo, what is your policy on dating coworkers?”
A friend told me this happened once during a working interview.
Needless to say, he took the impression that the applicant is more interested in relationships than the actual job.
I hope you found this guide helpful.
Remember, the interviewers are people too, so there is nothing to fear.
Believe that you are awesome and let your confidence show.