Interviewing has a basic set of standards that should be foundations for every interview and permeate every aspect of the interviewing process. From your preparation to your final contact with HR or a hiring manager, you should adhere to these “do” and “don’t” principles.
Character is one of the most important aspects any employee can have. No matter how good a liar you might be or how much you may stretch the truth, you give off cues that you are not telling the truth or the whole truth. If a potential employer gets the feeling that you are not being completely honest, it will be a huge red flag.
Hold Yourself Well
Posture says a lot about your personality and your attitude. Hold a professional posture that exudes professionalism, self-confidence, and a positive attitude. Don’t get too casual with how you sit or the language you use. Make solid eye contact and be actively engaged in listening.
If you are not sure how to dress, do some research. If you aren’t sure if you are over- or underdressed, err on the side of being overdressed. Never do the opposite. Most organizations post a general dress code. Be professional. You might have to invest in a nice business suit that fits you well. Don’t walk in looking unprofessional because of your clothes. Be sure you are well groomed and that your clothing looks professional.
As mentioned previously, we all have weaknesses. Acting as though you don’t is essentially lying or having a huge ego, neither of which is good during an interview. Remember that a weakness doesn’t mean you’re completely failing in a particular area—it just means that you are not as fluent in that area as in others. Weaknesses can be overcome, but character issues most likely won’t be.
Communicate Well With Human Resources
Human resources has a direct relationship with hiring personnel. If you are not professional in your interactions with HR or prove difficult to work with, that information will surely be communicated to the hiring team. Oftentimes an HR representative will sit in on the interview as well. Any interaction with someone involved in the hiring process should be taken seriously and handled professionally.
Fake It Till You Make It
To a certain extent you need to be able to back up everything you say during an interview. Sure, you could argue that you won’t lose a position after obtaining it if you can’t back up everything that was said during an interview. There is a level of cheating yourself you do with that mentality. To say you have something that you don’t actually possess shows a lack of integrity. This is why plagiarism is frowned on and so harshly punished. If you didn’t actually do the work for your degree, you are lying about your credentials and don’t possess the skills that your degree implies you do have. You are lying through the means of a degree because you can’t actually back up what that degree symbolizes or entails. To those who actually put in the work and possess the skills, that attitude is highly offensive. Make sure you can back up what you say.
We all know people who dramatize every story to make themselves look as innocent as a dove and someone else as evil as Satan himself. Don’t be that person—don’t exaggerate a situation to make yourself look flawless. Don’t demean other people. This is not a healthy sign of a professional. Be clear, objective, and truthful. Talk more about actions and less about personalities. Oftentimes things can come across as gossip. Employers will not knowingly want to bring that into the workplace.
This “don’t” could really wrap up a few others more generally. Bring your personality to the interview in a professional way, not your ego. Let the interviewers get a feel for who you are and what your likes and dislikes are. But don’t bring ego. People are almost automatically turned off by people with a “big head.” Ego could practically look like an overconfidence in oneself—a failure to admit any real weakness, never being able to admit you’re wrong, or that you think more highly of yourself than you do of others.
There are so many things to say in this section. Be sure to take anything you need with you. Have an extra sheet of paper and a writing utensil to take notes. Show up at least 15 minutes early but don’t arrive at the interview more than 15 minutes early. If you are unfamiliar with how to get to the interview or how bad traffic might be, get there with plenty of time to spare. But if you are 20 or 30 minutes early, don’t let them know you are there. Wait until it’s between 10 to 15 minutes before the scheduled time and then show up to your appointment spot.
Take extra copies of your resume or any other documents, such as a letter of recommendation. If you carry a folder or writing utensil, be sure that they are in good condition as well. Make good eye contact and be sure to greet everyone in the room who is interviewing you.
Forget to Follow Up
Follow-up is an important aspect of an interview. It gives you one last opportunity to influence the interview panel or those making the hiring decision. During a follow-up, by phone or email, be as professional as possible. Thank them for the opportunity to interview for the position. Express how you think you’d be a great fit for the role. Let them know that you will wait to hear back regarding their decision. Don’t make them feel as if they need to respond to your email or that you are expecting a response from them. That is not appropriate for a follow-up. If you want a response to something, do it through HR.
Anything you can do to help increase your chances of getting a new job should be taken seriously. Implementing these ten foundational “do” and “don’t” principles will help set you apart from other candidates.