Job Interviews: What (not) to do

You have the technical skills, know-how, and can effectively speak to your experience and qualifications. But are you prepared to demonstrate confidence, connect interpersonally, and build a strong rapport?

For a lot of companies, an applicant’s culture fit is as (if not more) important as your skills and experience level.

Maximizing your body language and non-verbal cues to display confidence (but not arrogance) comes down to how you naturally carry yourself.

Here are 10 things to practice that will help you walk into and out of the job interview with confidence.

Do:

  1. Be Expressive
    If you are expressive and attentive in the interview, it is a strong signal to the hiring manager that you will be an engaging and attentive employee. Smile and nod in response to questions and conversation. Raising your eyebrows is also a good technique to show interest. If it feels odd, try practicing in the mirror or in mock interviews with friends and classmates. You’ll feel silly at first, but with some practice, it will become second nature. It also helps if you remember to breathe and appears less forceful when you practice.
  2. Make eye contact
    Looking someone in the eye shows confidence, sincerity and respect. It goes a long way to validating the other person’s presence. It also helps you connect and become more memorable to the interviewer.
  3. Deliver a strong handshake
    Every form of expression during your interview, however small, gives the interviewer an impression of who you are. The handshake stands out as either firm and authoritative, or weak and uncertain. Match the other person’s grip, and give a full handshake.
  4. Pay attention to your posture
    How you carry yourself can either communicate confidence and determination or uncertainty. Keep your head up, shoulders back, and sit forward on your seat. Avoid slouching in your seat, hanging your head, or slumping your shoulders.
  5. Ask relevant questions
    Demonstrate that you’ve done your homework and genuinely care about the company and mission. Questions about the culture, history, work/life balance, and team dynamics (in addition to specifics about the job) show that you want to contribute to each part of the company. It will also convey that you are interested in joining a company that is aligned with your whole self.

Don’t:

  1. Stare off into the distance
    Keeping eye contact and your chin up will give you the chance to pick up non-verbal communication from your interviewer(s), which can help you steer your responses in the right direction as well as communicate respectfulness.
  2. Tell the interviewer that you are just wanting to get your foot in the door
    It is great that you want to work for the company, but remember you are being interviewed for a specific role and you need to first demonstrate that you are committed to doing that role well. Hiring managers don’t want to bring someone into a role who is only going to be looking for the next thing. However, if you prove yourself in that role and excel at it, more opportunities will undoubtedly come your way for advancement.
  3. Say only “I don’t know” or nothing
    If you get stuck, start by paraphrasing the question back to be sure that you understand it. You don’t have to know every answer, but be sure to let the interviewer knows what you are thinking. Don’t just sit in silence. Use methods to clarify you are going in the right direction. For example say, “There are several ways to look at this problem. One is to . . .” This allows the interviewer to give you an indication of whether you are going in the right direction or need to take a different route. If all else fails, admit you don’t know but that you can’t wait to dig in and learn.
  4. Communicate values or interests that don’t align with the company
    Everyone is happiest if they share the same mission, vision, and goals. If you aren’t aligned, it’s a recipe for disaster. Even if you succeed in getting a job, it will be tough to do great work if your heart isn’t in it.
  5. Interrupt
    Besides being a sign of impatience and disrespect, you will also miss the opportunity to understand the full context. You may think you know where the interviewer is going with a question but resist the urge to jump in and answer. You might cut them off from providing important context or take the question in a direction that’s incorrect. Give them plenty of time to ask their question, which will give you more time to think about how you want to answer.

There you go! Apply these 10 tips and you’ll exude confidence, plus win the favor of the patron saint of interviews. Good luck!

Originally published at https://www.codefellows.org.

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