Facing a Job Interview without Fear


The day has arrived. You dress, groom, and get into the car with your interview dossier. On the seat beside you or in your pocket are driving directions.  In your wallet is parking money, cab fare, and a credit card for any emergency requiring money.

You approach the reception desk or walk through the front door of the building no more than five minutes prior to the scheduled time, after stepping into the rest room to wash your hands and check your appearance.

It’s show time!

Everyone is nervous at a job interview, even the interviewer. You must project a sense of calm and poise, however, even if that is not how you feel inside. Your demeanor influences the entire interview.

“…Make yourself feel more comfortable (in) an interviewing situation (by starting) things off on your own terms. Seize control of the interview by being the first person in the room to smile and say hello. It’s just like calling “shotgun” when you’re getting into the car with your friends: you’re not claiming all of the power in the situation by calling “driver,” but you’re asserting your opinion of where you want to sit and how much control you get over the car radio.” Jake Jamieson

“You have nothing to lose. You didn’t have a job offer before the interview. If you don’t have one after it, you’re no worse off than before.” H. Anthony Medley

“Remind yourself that whatever happens, you’re sure to survive another day. And the less you worry about making mistakes, the less anxious you’ll be. Worrying about an experience is always more unpleasant than the experience itself.” Eugene Raudsepp

Enter the interviewer’s office as if you belong there. Don’t peek inside before you open the door fully; that shows a lack of confidence. Extend your hand first and shake the interviewer’s hand firmly and briefly. At the same time, speak your name.

Pause and wait for an invitation to be seated. If none is extended, don’t ask if and where you should sit, just select a chair across from or beside the interviewer’s desk; do not choose a chair or sofa that is difficult to rise from.

Open your briefcase or portfolio and withdraw your cheat sheet, a pen, and notepad or notebook with a hard back for writing. The smaller these are the better. Once seated, wait for the interviewer to address you.

Communicating without Words

Perhaps more important than what you say during an interview is the non-verbal communication produced by every person, the “body language.” Your body language must communicate attentiveness, enthusiasm, and confidence.

“Our nonverbal messages often contradict what we say in words,” says Jo-Ann Vega, president of JV Career and Human Resources Consulting Services. “When we send mixed messages or our verbal messages don’t jibe with our body statements, our credibility can crumble because most smart interviewers believe the nonverbal.”

Below are simple things you can do to make sure your body language does not contradict what you say.

Make eye contact and periodically break away. … When you break away, do not look down. It gives connotations of submissiveness.

Sit upright. Leaning back (in a chair) shows an attitude of being too relaxed. Leaning to the side connotes that you don’t like the interviewer.

Show positive emotion, but keep it understated. Smile widely, but don’t guffaw at jokes. Laughing along with the interviewer is great, but don’t laugh first.

Avoid negative body movements, such as putting your hands behind your head or gesturing with your palms-down. Tilting the head is a courtship signal; save it for courting.

An interviewer typically ends an interview by rising and extending their hand for a closing handshake. Rise at the same time with your briefcase or portfolio in hand. Before you exit, ask what are the next steps in the hiring process are and when you might call to check on your status.

As soon as you are out of the office and the lobby, stop, take a deep breath, and give yourself a figurative high-five! One more interview is over and, regardless of the outcome of this interview, you are one interview closer to a job offer.

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