Research has shown that people who present themselves well during an interview are more likely to be hired. If convincing others exactly how they should think about you isn’t your primary skill (it certainly isn’t mine), don’t panic. You don’t have to be able to manipulate others in order to get hired. I’ve put together a few tips to help you get through the interview process.
Dress professionally. When in doubt, dress more conservatively. Don’t gamble that the office is a casual dress environment if you aren’t positive. Even when you know that dress is casual, remember that some hiring managers and HR representatives prefer to see well dressed candidates because they feel like those candidates are serious about getting the job. You always want to convey that you’re interested in that job in that company.
Be polite to everyone. More and more offices are letting coworkers weigh in on hiring decisions. The theory behind this approach is that it leads to a more cohesive team after the person is hired. So take the time to learn everyone’s name - write down the names in your notes to help you remember, if needed. Treat everyone with respect and take the time to ask them questions. If you can get the others to talk about themselves they are more likely to form a favorable opinion of you.
Smile occasionally. I know this is difficult to do when you’re nervous, but if you can find a way to get yourself to smile it can help the interviewers to form a better opinion of you than if you never smile. In addition, smiling can create a more positive environment to help both you and the interviewer to relax more.
Honesty is always the best policy. You may be lacking in an area of experience or you may have just finished working for the boss from hell and are worried about how this could make you look during the interview. Remember that HR representatives are good with people - most of them know how to engage and they relate well to other people. Sometimes they do this a little too well (they can come off as organizational cheerleaders). Because HR professionals tend to have this in their personalities, they’re also pretty good at telling when someone is uncomfortable or trying to avoid an answer. When they see that you’re uncomfortable they may not be able to tell whether you’re lying or why you might be doing so. That’s why your best option most of the time is to be honest and come clean. You have a better chance of making it to the next round of interviews if you’re honest than if the HR professionals see behavior that indicates you’re hiding something.
Never speak poorly about a former employer or manager. At one time or another we’ve all worked for incompetent monsters or worse. I’ve been in too many companies and I know the odds are in your favor that you’ve had a bad experience with a boss. Keep in mind my previous point (honesty is the best policy), but don’t let your emotional experience of the situation dictate your words. When asked about these experiences, it’s best to explain that you had a difference of opinion and mention any constructive ways that you worked on the situation. This approach is more likely to make you look like a problem solver than a resentful person.
Finally, remember that finding a job is process and it’s always about moving forward. Due to the nature of how the process works, you’re always going to be rejected more times than you’re offered a position. Don’t take the rejection personally and don’t let it stop you from moving on to the next opportunity. You will only get there if you keep moving towards it.