Under ideal circumstances, job interviews can be very stressful and emotionally draining. After all, how you perform on a job interview will likely determine whether or not you get an offer for a position. Unfortunately, unless you are an experienced jobseeker, who has has participated in many job interviews, you will likely be taken by surprise at your next one. To that end, the following tips, when adhered to, will likely help to reduce your stress level at your next job interview and possibly increase your chances of getting a job offer.
§ Allow yourself an ample amount of time to arrive on time at your interview; if, for some reason, you are running late (never a good thing) call ahead ASAP and let your host know that an "emergency" or "traffic problem" is responsible for your tardiness. In general, it is a good idea to arrive at an interview 10-15 min early or right on time. Arriving early allows you to relax, assess the interview space and collect your thoughts before the interview begins.
§ Bring extra copies of your resume with you. In my experience, most of the people who you meet will not have read or misplaced your resume. By bringing extra copies with you, your prospective employer is likely to think that you are organized, thoughtful and reliable.
§ Regardless of what is happening in your life, it is always a good idea to be personable, upbeat and “positive” on a job interview. I recommend that you greet everyone (no matter what their standing is with the organization) with a smile and a comment that goes something like “It’s a pleasure to meet you”. Nobody wants to talk (or possibly work with) a disgruntled or unhappy person.
§ Always make eye contact when talking with anyone. We are, by nature, social creatures and a lack of eye contact (or an inability to look directly at a person during a conversation) may cause the interviewer to think that you may lack the requisite interpersonal communication skills necessary for the job.
§ Don’t offer an interviewer more information than is necessary. Direct and concise answers are appropriate. Also, these types of responses show the interviewer that you can think quickly, clearly and decisively. Don’t waste an interviewer’s time with rambling, unfocused answers or stories that are not relevant to the question that was asked. They are busy people and have other things that must be accomplished in additional to interviewing you.
§ Answer all questions as honestly and forthrightly as possible. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t hmmm and haw simply say so! However, I recommend that you soften the “I dont know response” with verbiage that resembles: “Pause ….hmmm.....That is a very good question …..Pause....I dont know the answer to that one! Or you can say: Gee I dont know the answer but perhaps you can give me your ideas on the topic?” Also, by pausing, you may sometimes be able to come up with an answer that originally eluded your when the question was first asked.
§ Never interrupt an interviewer when he/she is talking or in the middle of a thought. When appropriate, always allow the interviewer to control the flow and pace of the conversation. This signal to the interviewer that you can act professionally, are a team player and can be easily managed or supervised if you decide to join the organization.
§ When eating lunch or dinner with prospective co-workers always act professionally and dont "let it all hang out." This isnt meant as a time for you to kick back and "level" with the guys and gals. This is a chance for current employees to assess your social skills and offer them a glimpse of how you may represent the organization if hired. Everything you say or do will ultimately be reported or find its way to the person who will be your immediate supervisor. Remember; although you are in a social setting, you are still being scrutinized for your professionalism. So, always act responsibly and professionally when dining with prospective co-workers or managers.
§ Never drink alcoholic beverages at lunch (even if your host(s) does) and only at dinner when your host(s) orders a drink first. Also, if you cannot “hold your liquor”, I highly recommend that you don’t drink alcoholic beverages at any during your interview.
§ Ask questions about the company when appropriate. Prospective employers love when job candidates ask questions about the company or their roles in the organization. This shows prospective employers that you have done your homework and are interested in possibly joining the company. Also, it gives you an opportunity to assess a company’s culture and whether or not you will be able to fit in if you decide to join the organization.
§ TURN OFF ALL CELL PHONES, PAGERS, BLACKBERRY DEVICES and iPHONES when the interview begins and leave them off. Nobody likes being interrupted during a conversation by a ringing cell phone, blackberry, or pager. If you are so important that you need to be electronically-connected at all times, then you probably don’t need the job that you are interviewing for!
§ Never say anything derogatory or pejorative about anyone when interviewing. In case you haven’t noticed, the scientific community is a small one and chances are that one or more of people you meet will know some of the same people that you do! Everyone loves to gossip so be careful about what you say and how you say it!
§ Interview to win! Receiving one or more job offers likely indicates that you are qualified for a job and your interviewing skills are good. Multiple interviews without offers signal that something may be wrong with your interviewing skills or technique. If this is the case, I urge you to seek a career coach who specializes in mock interview training.
Like everything else in life, practice makes perfect. That said, the more job interviews that you go on, the more experienced you will become and the more job offers you will likely receive.
This has been a guest post by:
Cliff Mintz is a co-founder of BioCrowd (www.biocrowd.com), a networking and career-development website for bioprofessionals, and author of BioJobBlog (www.biojobsblog.com), a career-advice blog for undergraduate and graduate students. He is currently a freelance writer and frequent speaker at career-development symposia and job fairs.