Job Interview Skills: The Do’s and Don’ts
Attending a job interview is a nerve wracking experience for new professionals. Even with practice, some people never kick their jitters. Despite the stress job interviews can cause, there are things you can do to feel less worried before you face your potential new boss! Try practicing the following skills before and during each interview to help you de-stress and really impress your interviewer!
1. Do dress appropriately
How you dress for an interview is a big part of the first impression you leave! You want to ensure that you’re not only dressed appropriately for a job interview, but also that you’re dressed well for the specific type of interview you’re attending. If the company is a high end corporation, consider professional attire like a blazer and dress pants. If you’re interviewing for an industry where your skills can be displayed on yourself, such as makeup artistry or hair styling, make sure that your own makeup or hair are done to the quality that the potential employer would expect from you on the job. Regardless of what type of interview it is, avoid dress that is too casual, looks messy, or might be considered too revealing.
2. Do show up on time
Your ability to show up prepared and on time is being assessed when you attend a job interview. Rushing in at the last second or arriving late will almost certainly lose you the position. Aim to be there a little to give yourself some emergency time. You shouldn’t arrive so early that the interviewer feels rushed or like they’re keeping you waiting, but punctuality is one of the best skills you can display.
3. Don’t be too casual
Being friendly in an interview is a good tactic. Potential employers want to see that you have good people skills and can communicate with those around you. There is a fine line, however, between being pleasant and being overly casual, which can tarnish an otherwise good first impression and come across as inappropriate or unprofessional. Be careful with things like jokes, greetings, and even your posture. Relaxing a little is beneficial because it might take the edge off your nerves, but forgetting that you’re in a professional setting is risky. Your interviewer might not be impressed if you treat them like your buddy.
4. Do listen carefully
Interview questions aren’t always simple, so make sure you’re keeping track of the details while you prepare for your answer. This will help you answer as effectively as possible. You should also listen hard if there is a practical component. If the interviewer asks you to do a sample to display the skills you’d use on the job, listen to and follow all instructions! Your ability to listen to information and act accordingly is something they’ll be evaluating.
5. Do answer the entire question
Sometimes interviewers ask long questions with more than one part. Handling these questions can be stressful because they often require long answers, and candidates worry they’ll forget part half way. Here’s another place to use your listening skills! You want to answer each part of every question you’re asked, so pay close attention when the interviewer is speaking. They’re asking you those questions for a reason, and you should provide them with the information they need to consider you properly. If you consistently miss the point of the question or fail to answer completely, their evaluation of you will reflect that.
6. Do some research in advance
One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to research the company and the position itself. If you try to answer questions without knowing what the company does or what the position you’re being considered for entails, your interviewer won’t be impressed. As soon as you’ve applied for the position, or at least once you know you’ve got the interview, gather information about what services the company provides, who the important people are, and what they’re expecting of you.
7. Don’t talk too much
You will obviously be doing a lot of speaking in a job interview, since you’re being asked several questions. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should speak for long periods of time without break. Part of good communication is the ability to get your points across concisely, and your interviewer will be paying attention to how well you do this. If you ramble or get off topic, sum up your current point and recover quickly. You want to provide the interviewer with as much information as possible, but don’t overwhelm them with unrelated details.
8. Don’t let your nerves show
It’s completely normal to be nervous in a job interview. You will be expected, however, to rein your nerves in and conduct yourself well. Remember that body language is one of the biggest indicators of nerves! While you’re speaking, try to avoid nervous habits like jiggling your leg, twirling your hair, touching your face, or fiddling with your fingers. It’s okay to be nervous, but try not to let your interviewer see just how stressed you really are. They will expect you to conduct yourself professionally regardless of how many butterflies there are in your stomach!
9. Do find a balance between confidence and cockiness
Displaying a certain amount of confidence is necessary in a job interview because you’re being asked to list your skills and tell someone why you’re worth their time and money. If you lack confidence, you might have trouble convincing your interviewer that you’re the most qualified candidate available. On the other hand, being too confident can come across as cocky, which isn’t generally a quality that employers appreciate in their candidates. While you’re preparing for the interview, practice speaking positively about yourself without ‘tooting your own horn’. Interviewers are looking for candidates who have a solid sense of self, but who can also stay humble.
10. Do ask questions
At almost every job interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. This isn’t a trick; you are allowed and even encouraged to ask questions! If things went well and everything is straight forward then you might say that you don’t have questions for now, but be careful. Having no questions about the company or the position might be interpreted as disinterest and your interviewer might think you’re too eager to get out of there. Consider having a few general interest questions prepared just in case you get the sense that your interviewer expects you to ask for more information.
You’ve got this!
Stay calm, prepare in advance, and don’t beat yourself up too badly if it doesn’t go well! Job interviews aren’t easy, and everyone struggles with nerves beforehand. If you can master these skills and remember tips like this when you go in, you will increase your chances for success.