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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.
  • Traditional Interview
  • Non-Traditional

The 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 eventually.
  • 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 remember it.
  • 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 interview.
  • 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.
The Non-Traditional Interview
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 dining 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.

Next: Eating Etiquette

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