Interviewing 101: Fire Tips on Professionalism & Not Letting Your Guard Down
We have to be careful not to get too comfortable when interviewing. During the interview process, employers are looking for someone who will be the best fit for the role. Sometimes we really hit it off with the recruiter or hiring manager, or so we think so. In the interim, we decide to let our guard down resulting in risky behaviors such as chuckling too much, displaced humor, confusing body language, inappropriate conversation, and loose speech. You are still in an interview. It does not matter how friendly your interviewer is, keep it professional. You can be charming without being a clown.
Your interviewer may very well be smiling ear to ear the entire time and is giving all the right signals. Then when you get that rejection email, you are confused as to what went wrong. This is a common occurrence with job seekers. Sometimes people just click and it can work in your favor because personality is a big deal, however, don't allow yourself to get “too familiar” and sabotage yourself out of an opportunity.
There are instances where you know you bombed an interview based on the body language and reactions you received from the interviewer. You may think you know where things could have taken a wrong turn but honestly, most job seekers have no clue. They think just because they could not answer a question or their answer was too short or they hesitated too long, they ruined their chances. The truth of the matter is that those issues are minimal most of the time.
STUCK ON Q&A
You Don't Know What You Don't Know. Some questions are not relevant to you, so it makes sense that you would not have an answer. The problem here is that candidates feel pressured and give a fluffed up response or try to completely b.s. the interviewer which is often very noticeable. Just be honest. If the question is not relevant to you, then say so. Lying or dancing around an answer will only compromise your opportunity.
Short but Sweet. As far as short answers go, as long as you responded appropriately to the question, they are totally ok. Remember, the interviewer is often writing down your answers. Not having to write a paragraph for every single response is a welcomed break.
Can you repeat that, please? If you feel stumped by a question, don't go umm, uhh, hmm. Prepare a filler statement in advance. “That's a great question. Let me take a moment to think about that.” Or “do you mind if I take a moment to recall a situation pertaining to that type of scenario?” Interviewers are ok with this. Make sure you thank them before giving your reply. Now this applies to behavioral style questions that ask you about scenarios, not basic questions. You should be “on ready” to answer basic questions like, “tell me about yourself” or “why should we hire you”.
Posture. I know this can seem like etiquette 101, but you can remember your parents griping about this one . . . Sit up straight. Your posture in body language can say all sorts of things you may not realize. It can say you're not interested, you're TOO interested, you're in pain, you're uncomfortable, you're bored, and many other things. A good posture is one of the common staples of a true professional. It can signify trust, reliability, diligence, knowledge, etc. So like mom or grandma says, “Sit up straight, honey, or you'll end up stuck that way.” Yes, they were trying to scare you but they meant well. Unless you have a permanent health issue or significant injury, this is well within your control.
It's not that bad, is it? Ever wonder what someone would look like if they smiled? Your interviewer should never have to wonder about you because you should flash it when they first lay eyes on you, intermittently throughout the interview, and definitely at the end. You don't have to be Paul or Polly sunshine but a warm smile can disarm people who have their guard up. The last thing you want is for your interviewer to keep their guard up. So smile. It won't hurt, unless you don't do it.
They are so cool. There will be instances where you feel like you instantly hit it off with the hiring manager. That's great but don't be fooled. Even if they show a lack of propriety in being unprofessional by constantly going off topic, excessive jokes, or colorful language; don't get so comfortable that you think you can do it too. They might do it but you better not. That stuff might work for sales positions with a "guy's guy" type network but anywhere else, don't risk it.
Members of management at some companies are unfortunately fans of the “do as I say, not as I do” phrase. Some rarely participate in the interviewing process. So when they finally do, the interview can come across as a bit unorthodox from what you may be used to. For many companies, interviewing is HR's specialty. Regardless of the situation, remain the consummate professional at all times.