It is the day of the interview.
Unless you are experienced, you will probably be nervous and wishing you
could just get your old life back. Here are some tips for combating
nerves and avoiding some of the pitfalls.
The Traditional Interview
The Non-Traditional Interview
- Review your answers to
possible questions the night before if this is your first interview.
Then try to get a good night's sleep. This will help fix your
answers in your mind.
- Wake up in plenty of time
to have a good breakfast and get ready. Running late or not eating
always increases stress.
- Plan to arrive about a
half-hour early unless you will be very close to the place of your
interview. Traffic and unfamiliar routes may cause delay.
- Arrive at the place of
your interview at least 10-15 minutes early. You can use the extra
time to walk around, observe, and check your appearance.
- Tell yourself how much
you are looking forward to the chance to talk to someone about a new
opportunity. It doesn't matter if you don't believe yourself at
first. Keep saying it mentally and your brain will believe you
- Introduce yourself to the
greeter and state your purpose. Be sure to smile and say something
pleasant, but do not get too informal. Greeters are often used by
interviewers to provide additional information about you. The
greeter will probably direct you to a chair to wait. This is a
perfect time to read some company literature that you have brought
with you or that you see in the office.
- When the interviewer
calls you or comes to meet you, be sure that you are ready to shake
hands immediately. If your hands are sweaty, use a handkerchief to
dry them as you are picking up the items you brought with you.
- When the interviewer
introduces him or herself, use the name immediately so you will
- When you enter the room,
you may be asked to sit or you may be introduced to other members of
the interview panel. If there are others, repeat each of their names
and shake their hands. Remember to smile.
- When you sit, you can
take out your notebook that has the questions you would like to ask
at the end of the interview. You may also jot down notes during the
interview, but keep your notes brief and infrequent so your
attention does not stray from the questions. If a notebook would be
too distracting to you, either put in on your lap or another
surface, or wait to get it until you need your questions.
- Remember, sit comfortably
with good posture just like you have practiced.
- If you are interviewing
with more than one person, do not panic. The interviewers usually
take turns, so you can focus on the person asking you the question
if you are nervous. As you become more comfortable, establish eye
contact with the rest of the group when you are answering. Begin and
end your answer with the person asking the question.
- Remember, you are looking
forward to this. It is a great opportunity for you.
- The interviewer will
usually begin by telling you about the company, the interview
process, or both to help you relax. If that does not happen or if
you are nervous anyway, take a breath, smile, and answer the
question. If the words do not come easily, you can admit you are
nervous because you want to do well. An experienced interviewer will
try to break the tension for you by saying something to make you
laugh, by telling you to take your time, or by asking questions to
help you fill in the blanks. You can also do this for yourself by
saying something like, " This is my first interview and I thought I
was ready. Then you asked the first question." There is nothing like
a little laughter to help break the tension.
- Remember, maintain eye
contact, but don't stare. Looking down or away occasionally, or
leaning forward to show interest, helps add liveliness to the
- When the interviewer is
finished, he or she will usually ask if you have questions. Ask a
few that are important to you, but don't overdo it. The interviewer
may resent it if you delay the interviewing schedule.
- Before you leave, tell
the recruiter that you are interested in their position (if you
are), and ask what the next step is if that was not covered
previously. Shake hands again and thank him, her, or them for the
opportunity. It is also appropriate to ask for a business card.
This type of interview may
include a standard interview, but also include a meal or cocktail party,
or it may be a group interview where more than one candidate is being
interviewed. Whatever the venue, remember that it is an interview. It
is easy to get distracted if the interview is in a non-standard format.
- If your interview
includes food and/or drinks, the interviewer is observing how
you handle social situations. See the section on
etiquette if you need to brush up. Talk to everyone possible
and avoid food or drink that interferes with the postive impression
you are trying to make.
- If your interview is a
group interview, you may need to collaborate to solve a problem,
or take a leadership role, be a creative problem-solver, or a group
enabler. Play to your strengths, but be be an obvious contributor.
The interviewer is judging your group skills under pressure.
- Many interviews these
days are being conducted by telephone. The format will be
similar to a traditional interview with some important differences.
Be sure that you have disabled call waiting if possible, and ask
anyone who lives with you to provide quiet while you are on the
phone. You must use your voice to create a positive impression
because the interviewer cannot see you. You may have to be more
descriptive than usual and you cannot use a gesture to convey a
meaning. The great thing is that you do not have to dress up or
travel and you can have notes to assist you. However, you have to
take care that your answers do not become too informal or that you
are flipping paper frantically to find the points you want to make.
Some recruiters are even arranging interviews at locations where a
camera allows the interviewer and interviewee to see each
other while they are talking by phone. Of course you have to dress
up for those.
- If you are being asked by
the interviewer to meet in a hotel room, suggest a neutral
site, such as the lobby or a meeting room, or ask someone to go with
you. Don't take a chance.