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02 November 2010

Do’s and Don’t in an Interview.

The following is list of suggestions for proper preparation for, and decorum during, the employment interview. These tips should be well-heeded, as many of them deal with aspects of planning and appearance that can have a significant effect on your presentation, and very possibly, your chances of being hired.
  • Always collect as much information as possible about the company and position before the interview.         

  • Get plenty of sleep the night before the interview so that you will feel fresh and alert.
  • Eat a hearty breakfast so that you will feel satisfied and have plenty of reserve energy on which to draw as you need it.  But don’t overeat, since this could cause you to feel drowsy and listless.

  • Be punctual. You should plan your time so that you arrive at least 5 to 10 minutes ahead of time. A last  minute arrival will cause you to be tense and uneasy. You will want to feel relaxed and confident as you enter the interview.

  • Dress properly. Be sure your clothes are clean and neatly pressed. Shoes should be well shined. Avoid wearing outlandish styles or colors. Dress appropriately for the position and organization with which  you will be interviewing. In most cases, for men, a dark blue or grey business suit with white shirt and   an appropriately colored tie will serve you well. For women, the choice is much broader, but should      be guided by conservative colors and good taste

  • Pay attention to personal hygiene and grooming. Hair (including mustaches and beards) should be      neatly trimmed and combed. Hands and fingernails should be clean. Perfume and cologne should be      used with moderation and should not overpower the interviewer.  
  • Do not smoke, chew gum, or eat during the interview. This can detract substantially from your    presentation and overall image.

  • Be polite, courteous, and friendly to the interviewer’s support staff (i,e., secretary, administrative       assistant, assistant), these individuals will frequently relay their impressions of an employment     candidate to their supervisor.  

  • When greeting the interviewer, be pleasant; smile, extend a firm (but not crushing) handshake, and look him or her in the eye. Do not sit until asked.

  • Maintain eye contact throughout the interview. Occasionally look away, at appropriate moments, so      that your host does not feel challenged to a staring contest.

  • Be alert to your body language throughout the interview. Be careful to not slouch in the chair. This may be interpreted negatively by the interviewer (i.e., you are disinterested in what is being said, you are lazy or sloppy, you are not concerned with your personal appearance, etc.). Conversely, do not sit rigidly, you may project someone who is overly formal, unfriendly, or distant. Likewise, sitting on the  edge of the chair make you appear nervous, anxious, high strung, or overly aggressive. Maintain good posture and a relaxed but attentive, demeanor throughout the interview.

  • Gesticulate appropriately  to make a key point. However, be careful not to overact, since this can draw   interviewer’s attention to what you are saying and can detract substantially from you overall presentation.

  • Avoid unnecessary fidgeting with your hands or fingers, such as tapping your fingers, playing with pencils and paper clips, stroking your beard or hair, pulling you ear, rubbing your nose, and so on. All these suggest nervousness and will distract your interviewers, thereby  causing them to pay less attention to what you are saying. 

  • Be pleasant, friendly, warm, and polite throughout the interview. Remember to smile from time to time. You’ll want to establish and maintain a good rapport with the interviewer throughout the discussion.

  • Be careful not to dominate the interview discussion. This can cause the interviewer to feel anxious, or  even hostile. Be sensitive to the interviewer’s right to control the interview, and do your part to ensure a well-balanced, two-way exchange of information.

  • Never volunteer negative information to the interviewer. However, such information come to light as a result of the interviewer’s questioning, don’t avoid the issue. Be factual and honest, but be brief! Try to present this information in as positive a light as possible, but don’t over-explain or apologize.

  • Observe the interviewer’s body language. This can often indicate how well the interview is going. A      smile or nod of head can tell you that you are on the right track and your host agrees with what you       are saying. If your host begins to shift from side to side, play with a pencil, or look away, this may      signal lack of interest and tell you that you need to move on. A scowl or a frown may signal that the       interviewer disagrees with what you are saying,

  • Search  out those areas of particular interest to the interviewer.   Watch for signs of unusual interest or excitement. Spend some time to exploit this interest and satisfy your host’s curiosity.

  • Discover the employer’s hot buttons—those issues that are key to the   employer’s hiring decision. Use these to frame yourself as the ideal candidate who can bring  improvement and add value to the organization in these important areas.

  • Focus on the strategic needs of an employer. This will enable you to   position yourself as a positive agent who can help the organization to achieve its strategic objectives,  thus adding value to the organization. 

  • Strategize and position yourself as someone who can fill current job and   performance voids and add value to the organization.

  • If you are interested to the position, tell the employer of your interest before the conclusion of the      interview. Ask the employer for some feedback.

  • Thank the interviewer for his or her time and ask when you can expect to hear from them.

  • Write a brief “thank you” letter after the interview. This should thank the interviewer for their time and    also restate your interest in the position.

  • Take time after the interview to critique your own performance. What areas of the interview went well? How could these have been further strengthened? What aspects of the interview didn’t go that well?      What specifically went wrong? What could you do to improve your presentation in these areas?  Use    these information to better prepare yourself for your next employment interview discussion.

Reference: The Five-Minute Interview by  Beatty, Richard H. Canada: John Wiley &Sons, Inc., 1986

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