The dos and don’ts of job interviewing

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Don’t we all hate those awkward pauses and tricky questions during a job interview? Every process of employment, no matter what job you’re applying for, is going to require an interview, and a first impression can determine if you get that job.

If you’re one of those rare people who have no problem in interviews and is just a regular people person, well, kudos to you!

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This is for you people who get nervous, scared, or just get brain farts when asked a question you weren’t prepared for.

To make my list of dos and don’ts during interviews, I’ll use two students – The Sloucher and Mr. Poise – I met during a mock interview training session STEP-UP put on for its summer employment program.

The don’ts:

  • Keep your jeans, T-shirts, and tennis shoes at home. That kind of clothing isn’t going to cut it when doing an interview.
  • OMG! Posture is more important than you think; slouching is not attractive on anyone. The Sloucher got his name because he leaned so far back and out of the chair that I thought he would fall out. His posture came off as if he didn’t care.
  • No matter how unprepared you are for a question, try to come up with an answer for each one. Silence or “I don’t know” is the worst answer you could give. The Sloucher decided that it would be okay if he just grunted his way through answers or gave a smile that said, “Sorry, I don’t know what to say.”

The dos:

  • Think on your feet! Long pauses are awkward! Just calm down and organize your thoughts when getting a “brain fart.” When Mr. Poise was asked a tricky question, he was surprised for a minute but quickly gathered his thoughts and gave the best answer he could.
  • By the way, don’t use unprofessional words like “brain fart.” As comfortable as it is, guys, we can’t talk to employers like they’re our dudes, homies or friends.
  • Be truthful. Don’t boost yourself up when you know you don’t have the experience. If you get the job and the employer finds out, it won’t be good.
  • Trust me. Practicing is more helpful than you think it is. Suggestion: Find someone you’re comfortable with but isn’t afraid to give you the feedback you need to improve, like a teacher, and ask him or her to mock-interview you. Check out these sites for those possible tricky questions and standard interview questions:

www.quintcareers.com

www.collegegrad.com

  • Be careful when using personal stories that upset you to show something about yourself during an interview. It can cause you to get emotional and you want to be calm during an interview, said Virginia Peterson, supervisor for Hennepin County, and one of the interviewing employers at the mock interview.
  • Brains and beauty: Employers aren’t just looking at your credentials and experience. They’re also looking at how you carry yourself. Physical appearance is key. Mr. Poise was decked out in a suit, looking very professional.
  • Be articulate and keep the conversation going. For example, ask questions about the job and the employer. It will not only make the interviewer feel comfortable, but you too.
  • Seriously, looking the interview in the eye is intimidating, but, people, we have to make eye contact. Again, Mr. Sloucher kept looking down, coming across nervous and uninterested.

Which comes to my last and final point:

  • Be confident! Show them that you’re made for this job. Mr. Poise came across confident, but not arrogant, making him stand out, and showing the employer that he was right for the job.