10 Tips to a Better Interview

With the current state of our economy, and the job market as it is I wanted to talk today about something that a lot of you out there are probably doing.  If you have a job, congratulations, you should hold on to it and consider yourself lucky that you have a steady paycheck.  A lot of us are not so lucky.  But if you are out there searching through every classified ad and every post on Craig’s List, then this post is for you.

While you are out there searching for a job and trying to find your next place of employment, you will be finding yourself interviewing time and time again.  Of course you are going to hear, “No,” a lot more than you are going to hear anything else, but that is just the nature of the beast and the default of our economy.  But while you are interviewing, keep this list of things in mind.  I am going to break down what I consider the ten most annoying things that you could do while sitting in that interview.  These are things that I consider almost obvious but easily can be forgotten.  These are not guaranteed to have your potential future employer say no, but they will enhance the chances greatly.

1. Chewing Gum

This is a no brainer.  You are going into an interview to discuss your professionalism and the reasons why you should be their next hire.  Do you think that you sitting there while answering question after question is the time to be chomping on your stick of spearmint?  Spit it out before you even walk in the building, as you never know who will be sitting in the waiting room with you watching.

For those of you that do forget it is not OK to place said gum behind your ears.  If you do forget, and notice before you enter the interview itself, ask the secretary for the closest restroom and dispose of it in private.  Do not toss it in the garbage can or tick it under your seat.  Keep in mind this is where you are trying to get a job.  Treat it as such.

2. Hair Touching / Twirling

This is something that I see more females do than males, but should not be done by either.  If you are sitting there playing with your hair, or your face for that matter, you are giving off the impression that you are bored or not interested in the position or what the interviewer is saying.  Plus, it is kind of gross if you think about it.  You should go into the interview with your hair done in a professional manner in the first place, so do not compromise it by playing with it and waving your fingers through it.

3. Slouching

This is something that I m terrible at myself, but one that you need to pay attention to when waiting for the interview and during the interview itself.  If you slouch you are going to appear to be lazy, as if you do not care about what is going on, and you would rather be watching TV than vying for a career.  It also just looks tacky.  When you walk into the waiting room, while you are sitting at the interview table, and when you are leaving, walking, or standing stand straight up, shoulders back, and head high.  You will look like you mean business, even if you don’t.

4. Avoiding Eye Contact

Again, this is something that I struggle with on a daily basis.  Keep eye contact with the person that you are speaking with.  I do not care if you are talking to the secretary, to the guy handing you paper towels in the restroom or the person giving you the interview itself you need to look him or her in the eyes.  The more you look into their eyes, and don’t stare or make it obvious that is what you are doing, the more serious you will be taken and the more likely they are to treat what you say with a greater grain of salt.

I have the tendency to drift and begin looking at anything and everything else in the room than starring that person in the eye.  But in an interview you need to be prompt to respond and be looking at the person you are speaking to in the eyes.  It will be noticed you can guarantee that.  It is the little things that count as you will see in this entire list.

5. Yawning

More than likely your interview will be early in the morning.  Most companies will want to get it in and over with before they get too far into their day.  Expect your interview to be around or before 9:00 AM.  Make sure the night before you get plenty of sleep.  Get at least eight hours, and wake up at least an hour before your interview.  Drink a few cups of coffee and take a nice and relaxing shower.  Yawn your heart out on the way to the interview.  But do not ever yawn in the interview itself.  You need to be alert, awake, and mean business when sitting there.

If you do have to yawn, hide it.  Fake a couch or turn your head, anything to not blatantly yawn in the middle of the interview.  If you do have to yawn, and there is no stopping the forces that be, cover your mouth.  The same goes for a cough, a sneeze, o r anything else that comes from your nose and or mouth.

6. Playing with your pen.

When you sit down you should have a notebook, a pen, and a pad of paper.  You should, and this is completely acceptable, be taking notes during the interview.  This is also the place that you could store an extra copy of your resume, as well as a place to write down your three to five questions that you need to have prepared to ask the company after you are finished with your interview.  But, when you are not writing place the pen on the table and do not touch it.  This is similar to the hair touching as it will make you look bored and as if you couldn’t care less as to what is going on in that interview.

I wanted to make a quick note about the questions.  When I say that you need to ask questions I do not mean asking things like, “How many people work here,” or, “When did your company begin their services.” I want you to ask deeper questions and ones that require thought to be able to answer.  By asking deeper questions it shows that you cook the time to research this company and that you have the mindset to ask question that mean more than what is on the surface.

7. Checking your cell phone.

In relation to my previous post, this is a no brainer as well.  Turn your cell phone off.  Do not turn it onto vibrate; turn the damn thing off.  If you are sitting in an interview and your phone rings, you get an email or a text, or your calendar notifications go off you can guarantee that you will not get that job.  Cell phones are becoming a part of our everyday lives, and slowly are even replacing computers for some people, but that is no excuse to have it on during an interview.  There is no emergency that cannot wait until the interview is over.

No matter how bad you want to check it, to see if you have an email or to see if you have a new text from your buddy, ignore it.  Leave the phone in the car if you have to.  It will be hard, as I know how crucial your phone is to your survival, but it is not worth losing a job over for a text message from your girlfriend.

8. Using your hands while speaking.

Granted, the man in the White House does this with every word he says, but that does not mean it is OK to do in your next interview.  Please feel free to use your hands when you talk, but there is a difference than using your hands to make a point than using your hands to take the attention off the topic at hand.  I use my hands when I talk all the time.  I do this as I feel that everything I say is worth listening to.  (I will assume that this is why Mr. Hope and Change is doing it.)

When you are speaking keep your hands on the table, or in your lap, when you are speaking.  If you have to use your hands please do it sparingly.  The more you use your hands the more unsure of yourself you will seem and it will begin to intimidate the people handling the interview.  Also, it can be used as a way to keep your mind off the task at hand (no pun intended) and will force you to lose eye contact.  If you can sit on your hands and not look too obvious do so but keep the hand motions to a minimum.

9. Nail biting.

Need I say more?

10. Smiling too much or not smiling enough.

When you are in your interview just be yourself.  Act normal.  Smile at things that you would normally smile at. Do not sit there and look like you hate the world, even if you do, but do not sit there and smile and laugh at everything anyone at the table says.  You need to act normal and be yourself.  You do not want to be hired as someone that does not show up on Monday morning.  There is a fine line between smiling too much and not smiling enough, but based on the individual interview that you find yourself in you will be able to tell how to react to the ones handling the session.  Use the brain that hopefully will be the reason you get the job.

With this list I cannot guarantee that you will get your next job.  But I can tell you that if you listen to these ten tips that I have provided here you will have a better chance of landing your next vocation.  I wish you the best of luck in your search as I know how grueling it is out there.