Many things can go wrong in a job interview, but they are not necessarily related to an interviewee’s answers to questions or lack of credentials. In fact, what makes most of an impression in personal interviews is the interviewee’s attitude. This is not to say that you can get yourself hired by being likeable. But you certainly can get yourself not hired by failing to handle yourself well.
Predicting your interviewers’ personal preferences is futile. What you need to do is to make sure that you’re being yourself, but still giving a positive impression of being a cooperative, enthusiastic worker — even if this isn’t your current status of mind. Here are five adjectives that you certainly don’t want to be described with after the interview. Not only they could push you down the list, they also can eventually lead to your exclusion from the process.
Many of us have hectic lifestyles, which may not be possible to control it even when we have job interviews. You may have to work longer hours to take some time off to do the interview, juggle child care, and drive longer than usually to get to the interview location, or just be stressed about your life in general. Regardless of the source of stress, it will show on your face and attitude. A candidate who appears to be tired, distracted or absent-minded simply may be losing critical points for the simple fact of just not being fully there, often seen as not engaged or enthusiastic enough. It makes sense to do whatever you can to avoid this impression. Arrange for your interview well ahead, make sure you get all the help you can get and a good night sleep. When you’re occupied by your work or life requirements during the interview, you will be more responsive to your interviewer’s questions and concerns.
Demonstrating the right manners during an interview is generally important, and particularly critical for jobs that involve dealing with clients or business clients. Avoid soft handshaking, poor eye contact or using an overly soft or loud voice. Similarly, avoid any annoying habits like clicking a pen, shaking your legs, tapping on a desk, etc. These personal habits won’t only hurt your professional image, they also may reflect low self-esteem that harm your overall application position. Body language often speaks louder than words. So make sure that you’re setting up straight and within a proper distance from your interviewer that allows you to maintain eye contact with everyone, if you’re being interviewed by a panel.
Everyone knows that interviews are the time to dress to impress. But you need to make sure that you way of impress can’t be taken the wrong way. The safest route, of course, is to stay clear of any stylish attire unless you’re applying for a fashion-related job, and you really know what you’re doing. But clothes aren’t everything. Make up, accessories and bodily smells — whether they are a result of perfume or otherwise, can all cost you dearly if you get them wrong. The key word when it comes to appearance is clean. Choose solid colours and low-key accessories, and use a scent-free — or very light — deodorant or eau de toilet.
You may be frustrated with your current job and the overall job market, but it doesn’t help you to appear overly cynic or bitter. Many questions can trigger you to launch a rant about the economy, pay levels, benefits, work conditions, etc. This also can come as part of your response to a question for example about previous work situation like a layoff. The point is don’t be dragged into a negative conversation about yourself, your previous employers or even the economy. Because attitude is key, frame your negative experiences and feelings within your overall ability to learn and develop. Don’t forget that to present this positivity in a convincing way, you should yourself believe it — at least
With so much career advice out there, many may fall into the trap of sticking to scripted scenarios where they’re unable to introduce their individual personality to future employers. The result might not be necessarily negative, but an employer may be left with an uneventful experience after the interview. While everyone tries to avoid a negative impression, having a nearly no-impression doesn’t help either. The balance of being warm and personal without crossing professional lines is a must to appear human and build rapport in any interview.
Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is currently an editor based in Seattle.