Not making a good first impression
Sometimes, less-qualified people get selected over more-qualified
people simply because they make a better first impression.
To give yourself the best odds for success, work on establishing
a positive first impression. Be friendly to everyone you
meet, make good eye contact, use a firm handshake, appear
genuinely happy to be there, and be sure you are prepared.
The Pre-Interview Checklist in the Job Hunter Pro Tools
section can help in this area.
Appearing nervous and uneasy
It’s normal to feel nervous about an interview. However,
regardless of how nervous you might be, you don’t have to
appear nervous to the interviewer. There are two primary
ways to avoid appearing nervous: 1) good preparation for
the interview, and 2) awareness of signs of a nervous behavior.
During the interview, periodically evaluate how you might
appear to the interviewer. Are you fidgeting, do you have
negative body language, are you avoiding eye contact, are
you speaking too softly, etc?
Talking too much or too little
When an interviewer asks a question, they hope to get an
answer that addresses their question in enough detail that
they can make an informed decision about the applicant’s
qualifications. Take your clues from the interviewer regarding
the adequacy of your answers. If they ask for additional
details after you answer each question, consider providing
more details in future answers. If they start interrupting
you or appear a little anxious, try scaling back the length
of your answers.
Getting off the subject
sure your answers stick closely to the subject matter of
the question that is asked by the interviewer. If you wander
too far from the subject, it will reduce your effectiveness.
Part of your job during an interview is to help the interviewer
learn things about you that they might not specifically
ask you about. Don’t be afraid to add important details
that relate to the questions being asked.
Irritating use of repeated words or phrases
you have ever been around someone who starts almost every
sentence with “Ah,” or uses other verbal fillers, you know
how irritating it can be after awhile. Most of us don’t
realize we have such habits. It takes personal awareness
to spot these speech habits. The next time you are having
a phone conversation or just talking to friends, see if
you can catch yourself over-using certain words or phrases.
Periodically check yourself during the course of an interview
to be sure you aren’t using bad speech habits.
Dealing with negative issues in your background
about everyone has something in their background or work
experience that they aren’t proud of. Start by preparing
a list of potential negatives that you may need to overcome
in an interview. From this list, prepare written responses
that minimize any negative aspects and maximize any positive
outcomes. Out of every negative experience comes a “lesson
learned” that helps us in the future.
The interviewer asks inappropriate questions
a general rule, you do not want to get in a debate with
an interviewer about the appropriateness of a particular
question. This will not score points for you and could easily
eliminate you from consideration. How you deal with inappropriate
questions is a matter of personal choice. In most cases,
it is best to avoid showing shock or surprise. Simply answer
the question to the best of your ability and move on. If
you believe there is a legal issue that needs to be addressed,
take it up with your attorney.
Not having questions for the interviewer
is a good idea to ask questions during the interview, and
to have at least two or three questions for the interviewer
at the conclusion of the interview. It helps demonstrate
your interest in the job and often provides an opportunity
to add additional information about your background. An
example of a closing question that can help you out is:
“Is there anything about my background that you have any
concerns about?” This gives you an opportunity to address
any concerns before you leave.
Using Inappropriate Jargon or Acronyms
U.S armed forces and many other organizations regularly
use jargon and acronyms that become part of everyday
communication. It's easy to carry over routine speech
habits into the job interview process. However, doing so
may cause confusion or create a negative first
impression. Consider your day-to-day language and adjust
it so that it is appropriate and well-understood by
those involved in interviewing you. Also recognize that
acronyms often have more than one meaning.
Turning Challenges into Opportunities
The importance of the job interview cannot be over-emphasized. Fortunately, there
are many steps that can be taken to assure the best possible interview for your
situation. One of those steps is to understand the kinds of challenges one might
encounter and to consciously overcome those challenges.
Knowledge about the interview process and effective preparation are key elements
of a successful interview. The above list of challenges provides a review of the
kinds of things you need to be aware of during your interview. This awareness will
help you throughout the interview process. There are lots of other interview tools
and resources within this website including the Interview Trainer, the eBook and
within the Tools and Forms sections. You are encouraged to take advantage of all
of these resources.