The dreaded job interview. No matter your resume and talents if you mess this up you won’t get that job. In today’s tough economy you need every possible edge. It can be a simple equation: You want to be liked—not hated.
Here are ten simple things to do that will dramatically increase your chances: from wearing the right expression, to knowing what not to say, to never ever breaking a sweat.
1. Don’t be a Smiley Face
Excessive smiling in a job interview is seen for what it is—nervousness and a lack of confidence. A smiley face exudes phoniness, which will quickly be picked up by the interviewer. Instead be thoughtful and pleasant. Smile when there’s something to smile about. Do a practice run in front of a mirror or friend.
2. Don’t be a Know-It-None
Your job is to be knowledgeable about the company for which you’re interviewing. Random facts about last night’s episode of Dancing With the Stars episode or your favorite blog will not get you the job. Never feel you have to fill an interview with small talk. Find ways to talk about serious subjects related to the industry or company. Pockets of silence are better than padding an interview with random babble.
3. Don’t Sweat
You can lose a job by wearing an undershirt or simply a little too much clothing. Sweaty palms or beads on your forehead will not impress. You are not applying to be a personal trainer. Sweat will be seen as a sign of weakness and nervousness. Do a practice run with your job interview outfit in front of friends. The job interview is one place you definitely don’t want to be hot.
4. Put Down that Stop Sign
Interviewers are seeking candidates eager to take on challenging projects and jobs. Hesitance and a nay saying mentality will be as visible as a red tie—and seen as a negative. Practice saying “yes” to questions about your interest in tasks and work that might normally give you pause.
5. Don’t be a Sheeple
Asking the location of the lunchroom or meeting room will clue the interviewer into your lack of preparation and initiative. Prepare. Don’t ask questions about routine elements or functions of a company: where stuff is, the size of your cube, and company policy on coffee breaks.
6. Don’t be a Liar Liar
Studies show that employees lie frequently in the workplace. Lying won’t get you one. In a job interview even a slight exaggeration is lying. Don’t. Never stretch your resume or embellish accomplishments. There’s a difference between speaking with a measured confidence and engaging in BS. One lie can ruin your entire interview, and the skilled interviewer will spot the lie and show you the door.
7. Don’t Be a Bad Comedian
Humor tends to be very subjective and while it may be tempting to lead your interview with a joke you’ve got to be careful about your material. You probably will know nothing about the sensibilities of your interviewer, let alone what makes them laugh. On the other hand, nothing disarms the tension of a job interview like a little laughter, so you can probably score at least a courtesy chuckle mentioning that it’s “perfect weather for a job interview!”
8. Don’t Be High Maintenance
If you start talking about the ideal office temperature, the perfect chair for your tricky back, and how the water cooler needs to be filled with imported mineral water, chances are you’ll be shown a polite smile and the door, regardless of your qualifications. Nobody hiring today is going to be looking for someone who’s going to be finicky about their workspace.
9. Don’t Be a Minute Man
At every job interview, the prospective hire is given the chance to ask questions. Make yours intelligent, to the point and watch the person across the desk for visual cues whether you’ve asked enough. Ask too many questions about off-target matters and you’ll be thought of as a Minute Man, destined to waste the company’s resources with insignificant and time-wasting matters.
10. Don’t Be a Switchblade
Normally the Switchblade is thought of a backstabber, often taking credit for someone else’s work. In an interview setting, the Switchblade can’t help but “trash talk” his former employer. If you make it seem like your former workplace was hell on Earth, the person interviewing you might be tempted to call them to find out who was the real devil.
By Jonathan Littman and Marc Hershon