Ch. 3: Interview Tips
In Ch. 2: How to Prepare for an Interview we discussed how to research potential employers, what steps to take to practice interviewing, and what job seekers should bring with them to be well-prepared.
To follow up, we've put together a gigantic list of interview tips to help avoid common mistakes most job seekers make and ensure that you are the most prepared candidate before going to your interview.
With interviews, what you don’t say is as important as what you do say. Non-verbal communication is one of the most important elements to be conscious of when interviewing.
Nonverbal Communication in an interview is a two way street. Not only should you beware of what signals you put off, but look out for those your interviewer might be sending.
It’s like dating; you have to figure out if the person across from you likes you enough to take the relationship to the next level.
There are a few really good tips that you should be aware of when you are preparing for your interview, to ensure that you separate yourself from other candidates.
With a little bit of review, you can ensure that you cover all of your bases and ensure that you separate yourself from those candidates who don’t know some of these important tips.
1. What to Wear to an Interview
You need to look your best not only on paper but in person. Like dating, they are trying to gauge if you are the right match for their company. Similarly, you are also deciding if you want to continue the relationship with them.
To look the most attractive, you need to project what's on your resume that landed you the interview. Essentially, you want to ensure that if the position you are going for is for an upper-management position, then you want to present yourself as an upper-management candidate.
You don’t want to go in looking like you are attempting to get a position in a different industry. If you’re applying for a hospital or healthcare job, you want to showcase that you deserve a hospital or healthcare job by the way you dress for the interview.
This means you need to look good; if you don’t look as good in person as your resume portrays you to be, they won’t give you the job.
With all the clothing styles and trends today, it is best to stay on the conservative side and look neat, clean, and business professional.
One way to ensure that you stick to looking business professional is to stick to neutral tones and dark colors; instead of distracting your prospective employer with bright colors.
Some individuals think that you should dress in bright business colors, due to the fact that you want to be remembered and quite literally stand out from the crowd.
The problem with this, is that if it is looked down upon within the organization, you will send off the message that you might be difficult to squeeze into existing team dynamics and company culture.
That’s the last thing you want to project. You want to project that you are going to be an easy fit, and a must-hire for the healthcare organization in that specific hospital job.
A useful tool is to check with your interviewer to see if the business or hospital that is looking to hire you prefers individuals to dress in a certain way.
Depending on the employer, some may prefer business attire, while others may want interviewees to dress for the position they're seeking. It's always best to ask rather than guess. That way, you know for sure what is going to be expected of you - instead of just assuming what you believe the organization might want.
Essentially, you want to ensure that your attire matches what they expect of you. If they provide a mandatory employee dress code policy, or offer you guidelines on what to wear - you should follow those guidelines to the tee.
This will ensure that you come off as the most professional candidate, and won’t send the wrong message.
2. A Good Handshake
Many people will tell you that having a good handshake makes a good first impression. A good handshake goes a long way on how others perceive you; it can show confidence, strength, personality, and many other traits.
When you project confidence, you inspire confidence in the interviewer about your qualifications for the respective job.
For an example, if you showcase that you project your confidence about your qualifications and experience for the job, the interviewer will observe that confidence and feel confident in their belief that you might be the best candidate for the job.
Tips to a good handshake include:
Don’t linger — it’s like too much eye contact; it is uncomfortable, and the other person isn’t sure when to break away.
Be firm, but don’t crush—you don’t want to break their hand, but you don’t want your handshake to be cold and dead--it’ll make you seem weak.
Just ensure that you have a good balance of pressure between their hand and yours; they should counter each other—one should not overpower.
Avoid the Dead Fish Handshake — don’t just put your hand in theirs, lifeless and cold. It is one of the biggest turn offs in handshaking.
Don’t Shake With the Left Hand — Left handed shakes are seen at least as strange, but can offend some. Stick to shaking with the right hand—unless otherwise.
If you don’t have much experience with projecting confidence in your handshake, then take a few additional steps to ensure that you do have confidence when the moment arises.
Taking a few extra steps to ensure you have a solid handshake for your interview is easy if you ask a friend for some help before your interview.
You can get really good at projecting confidence in your handshake through a little practice.
Another benefit of practicing with a friend is that you can receive tips and advice on what you can do better.
If you do have previous experience with projecting a solid handshake, it would still be beneficial for you to seek advice from a friend for any tips or tricks you can use in the interview when shaking their hand.
A friend might offer some helpful insight by saying something along the lines of, “Your handshake is firm, but you tend to look away when you shake my hand.” Or they might even offer some helpful advice along the lines of, “You project confidence with your handshake, but it feels like you’re gonna shake my hand off because you’re shaking so hard.”
A handshake goes a long way to ensuring a positive interview experience, and a little bit of time is all it takes to project confidence.
3. Confidence Is Key
Confidence plays a big part in how people perceive you. While you want to come across as confident, you don’t want to come off as cocky and arrogant.
There is a delicate balance that needs to be achieved, and figuring out the right balance needs to come naturally for you before the interview.
Finding the right balance between being overly confident — to the point of disinterested and arrogant — and needy/weak is key.
The middle ground is to be friendly, have faith in your skills, and believe you have something to bring to the table.
Asking arrogant questions, or seeming entitled to the job, will alienate your interviewer, and it won’t result in a second interview. You want to ensure that you are doing everything you possibly can to increase your chances to advance to the next stage of the interview.
One thing you want to make sure you do is to keep sarcasm at bay, and watch your facial expressions when you respond to a question.
You want to send one clear message to the interviewer that you are passionate about the position, and you are interested in working for them.
If they perceive a mixed signal, it’ll send doubts to them about whether or not you really want the position and they might not advance you into the next interview phase.
One thing you want to make sure that you don’t act like the job is above or below you — if you want the job, it should be a perfect fit. Show you deserve the job by how you answer questions and by your preparation.
On the same token, don’t believe the job is above you. If you seem insecure about being able to fulfill the job duties, your interviewer will notice and question your fit.
One great way of ensuring that your confident for the interview is to do your research as we mentioned in the previous chapter.
Doing your research is an effective way of making sure that you are prepared for the interview, and your confidence level will rise naturally from the extra preparation you put in.
If you need a refresher on how to do the most effective and efficient research for your interview, take a look back at Chapter 2: How To Prepare For An Interview.
Having confidence in your interview is all about preparation and belief in the fact that you are the most qualified applicant for the position based on your previous work experience and education background.
4. Keep Your Guard Up
One thing many people forget to do is to stay alert doing the interview process. Individuals are so focused on trying to get comfortable, and showcase how easily they’d fit in, that they lower their guard and leave themself vulnerable for curveball questions.
Stay alert, don’t let your guard down, and don’t get too comfortable. Getting too comfortable with your interviewer will reveal subconscious insecurities that might come across as needy or fearful.
Talking about your fears and seeming too needy will not make you seem human - in fact it will lose you the job.
Don’t talk about how you really need a job or about any baggage you have. It’s not good to talk about personal problems or anything that would make them sense that you couldn’t perform your duties outside of normal accommodations.
Stay professional and keep a moderate poker face on. Be polite and pleasant, but don’t reveal too much about your personal life.
The interviewer is not your friend — he or she is the person standing between you and the job.
While you don’t have to make it seem as if you are being interrogated, you do have to take your time when answering the questions and make sure that each question you answer during the interview is well thought out and the best answer you could possibly give.
Keeping your guard up will also help ensure that you don’t respond with an answer you didn’t properly think through. Essentially, it’ll ensure that you keep your guard up for curveball questions that might come along.
These questions are designed to test your experience and background to ensure that you are capable of performing the job - and answer whether or not you truly know what you’re talking about.
Keeping your guard up during the interview is essential to having a successful interview, and is one interview tip that is easy to remember.
5. Don't Dominate The Conversation
One way that you can avoid dominating the conversation is to be a good listener and ask intelligent questions.
If you get them talking about themselves and the job, it will give you a break and let you re-organize your thoughts. Remember that an interview is a conversation and not just a Q and A.
As we discussed earlier, you want to use the interview as a chance to learn about them, as they learn about you.
Nobody likes a person that overpowers the conversation and rambles. Keep a good discourse, and it will show that you, in fact, do have good communication skills and leadership potential.
When individuals ramble on, it appears as if you are nervous or cannot organize your thoughts in an effective manner for the interviewer. You want to avoid coming across as someone who gets flustered at the drop of a hat.
In a professional setting, especially the healthcare industry, you will be asked to work under stressful environments.
Good listeners are considered great conversationalists, because they get the other person talking and can engage with questions to further continue the dialog.
So, listen for great opportunities to ask more compelling questions that keep your interviewer engaged; you don’t have to let them be the only one asking questions.
If you reviewed the previous chapter, you’ll take note where we stated the importance of doing your research before the interview.
A little bit of research will help you converse with the interviewer a little bit more, and it will feel more conversational instead of coming off as a Q and A session as we mentioned above.
6. Don't Break The Bubble
Always keep in mind your interviewer's personal space, this includes: eye contact and proximity to their body.
Maintain eye contact, but don’t over do it. Always remember to blink and look away from time to time. Look at one eye and then the other; it will help make it feel that you are not just statically staring at them.
Note: It is best, when thinking of questions or answers, to look up instead of to the left — looking left is an indicator that you are lying.
As for proximity to their body, most interviews have chairs set up, so you don’t have to worry about this one as much. Just don’t lean in too far, or position your chair closer to theirs.
Your non-verbal communication is important to ensure that you give them enough space and don’t make them feel uncomfortable. The last thing they want to do is advance a candidate to the next stage who makes them feel uncomfortable.
7. Don't Be Nervous
Being nervous will make you seem uptight, and your interviewer will notice. Work off the nerves by being active before the interview — for example, working out or walking. If your interview is up a few floors in a building, take the stairs; it’s a good way of relieving nervousness.
Take some time to consider this though before you do it, as the last thing you want to do is show up to your interview drenched in sweat.
If you show up with sweat on your brow, it’ll almost certainly convince the interviewer that you are most definitely nervous. So take steps to ensure that you show up looking like you are cool, calm, and collected.
Being nervous will weigh you down, and it will keep you from being yourself.
If you’re nervous, you could accidentally stumble over your words, bounce around in your responses, and more.
Try to quell the emotion, and keep a level head. It’s not life or death, and you have a better chance of getting the job if you believe that either way you will be okay.
There are a few great ways of calming your nerves and reducing some of the nervous feeling you might be experiencing before your interview. The first step to calming your nerves is to accept that you're anxious.
When you accept that you’re anxious, you’ll stop trying to find ways to avoid being nervous.
The next step to reducing your nerves is to consider how your brain is playing tricks on you. For instance, your brain could be telling you that you aren’t qualified for this position, or that you didn’t dress properly for the interview, etc.
It’s important to realize that you were called in for the interview for a good reason — you’re qualified and they are interested in potentially hiring you. When you take the time to realize that your mind is going to try and trick you — you can reduce some of the anxiety you are potentially feeling.
Another way to decrease the amount of nerves you experience is by focusing on the current situation. One thing that tends to lead to stress is the belief that you have so many other things on your plate as well, and that an interview is the last thing you should be doing right then.
To get rid of these nerves, take a deep breath and let it out slowly and focus on what you can control in the present moment.
That means that your entire focus should be on how you can do your best in the interview coming up, and then worry about everything else later.
Preparing for your interview will help calm your nerves. If you have great answers and a highlight reel of skills in your tool belt, then you will feel better about anything that comes your way in the interview.
These tips will help you calm your nerves before the interview, and ensure that your interview goes smoothly.
Just relax. Keep calm, sit up straight, put your hands on your hips, and don’t make too many gestures. Keep it cool; you’ll be prepared for anything that comes your way throughout the interview.
8. Clarify Why You Want The Job
One thing you need to do to ensure a successful interview is to clarify why you want the job.
An interview is designed to do three things: 1.) Learn more about your qualifications for the role, 2.) Learn more about you, and 3.) Ensure that you truly want the position and are willing to work hard if they hire you.
So many people focus on providing the right answers in the interview, or appearing as if they have all the answers to all the unspoken questions as well.
The problem with this approach, is that people spend so much time focused on what to say in an interview, instead of showcasing that they truly want the job.
If you don’t have all the answers to their important questions, but showcase that you are passionate about the position, you can help your case overall.
There are going to be plenty of candidates who will answer every question well, but don’t showcase that they have a passion for the job and want to succeed.
In other words, one of the most critical interview tips you can do is to ensure that you want the job.
9. Anticipate The Interviewer's Conservations
One critical interview tip that you need to do is to anticipate the interviewer’s conservations. Was there something on your cover letter, resume, or application that you wish you would have changed when you reviewed them.
Take the time to review your cover letter, resume, and application to see if there are any areas that you might need to clarify or resolve in the interview.
To identify some areas of your resume, cover letter, or application take the time to review our other Career Guides for each topic. To identify some of the interviewer’s conservations about your resume, review our Resume Guide.
To identify some of the interviewer’s conservations about your cover letter, review our Cover Letter Guide.
One of the main concerns that interviewers have in your interview has to do with what qualifications and previous experience you put on those important documents.
After reviewing the resume, cover letter, and application you can highlight some of the conservations that an interviewer might have about the specific role or job you applied for.
The best way to calm some of those conservations is to once again highlight some of the previous experience or education background that you didn’t disclose on those important documents.
By highlighting those aspects, you can once again make you stand out amongst those other candidates and reinforce why you deserve the job over some of the other candidates.
10. Line Up Your Questions Beforehand
If you’re following our other career guides, you’ll remember that doing your research is critical before your interview. This means that you should already have a substantial amount of questions lined up for your interview.
As we’ve previously mentioned, when you have your own list of questions ready to ask the interviewer, you once again highlight your interest for the position.
In addition, you want to line up some questions that are directly related to the role. If you don’t know much about the role, then it’s a good time to bring up some relevant questions that weren’t covered throughout the course of your interview.
One great interview tip is to use a notepad during the course of your interview, so that you can line up a succession of questions that weren’t answered during the interview.
They might be some of the most basic interviews questions to ask with the role, but you want to ensure that you come across as interested in the role without coming across as a nuisance.
When you line up your questions, you can also cross several questions off the list from the answers that might be provided when they answer your questions.
Lining up your questions will also ensure that you don’t skip around and aimlessly.
You want to make it seem that you are ordered and go throughout your day with structure.
Lining up questions beforehand will help ensure that your interview goes well and make you come off as one of the most prepared candidates.
11. Try To Score A Success Within The First Few Minutes
One of the most critical aspects and great interview tips we can provide is that you need to try and score a success within the first few minutes.
As we mentioned previously, going through the interview process is a lot like dating. Whenever you meet someone, they consider in the first few minutes whether or not they would date you.
Interviewing is essentially the same thing. Your interviewer will determine in the first few minutes whether or not they can perceive themselves working with you, whether or not you would be a good fit for the organization, and whether or not you would be a good fit for the role you are interviewing for.
In order to avoid getting quickly phased out in their minds about whether or not you would be a good fit, you need to ensure that you score a success within the first few minutes.
One of the best ways to score a success within the first few minutes is to showcase your energy and enthusiasm. While some individuals recommend that you come out extremely level-headed and as professional as possible, it might be perceived that you are bored and don’t want to be in that interview itself.
That is the last thing you want to do.
In addition, you want to express your appreciation for the interviewer’s time. The interview process is extremely lengthy for the interviewer as well, and you can separate yourself from those candidates who don’t thank their interviewer for the critical amount of time they are spending evaluating you.
It’s important to remember that other candidates might come in regretting their decision to book their interview at that time or that day, so you have to bring the energy.
Another way to indicate your excitement during the interview and score a success early on is to say something along the lines of, “I’m excited to be here for this meeting, and I’m really passionate about what [company] is doing.”
Starting off the interview with that simple sentence will separate yourself from other candidates who start out their interview slowly and dredge on.
12. Be Ready For Inappropriate Questions
One of the main concerns that both interviewers and interviewees need to be aware of is inappropriate questions. There are plenty of questions that are considered off-limits for human resource individuals.
Questions should strictly be limited to your qualifications for the position, and whether or not there would be any restrictions that would prevent you from doing your job to the fullest.
Some of the questions that are inappropriate to be asked are related to race, national origin, age, disabilities, religion, arrest record, personal finance concerns, and more.
If the interviewer ever accidentally asks one of these questions, or another question that you feel might be inappropriate — do your best to steer the topic of discussion back to the job without coming off as rude.
In most cases, asking an inappropriate question is an accident, but needs to be handled with care on both sides.
13. Get Ample Sleep
One tip to ensure that you do well in your interview is to make sure that you get ample sleep beforehand.
When you get ample sleep the night before your interview, you can be on top of your game to ensure that you are ready to answer any question or trick that might be thrown your way.
14. Smile Naturally Throughout The Interview
Another helpful tip for ensuring that your interview goes well is by making sure that you smile naturally throughout the interview. You want to use your non-verbal communication throughout the interview, and one of the most critical non-verbal tips is to naturally smile.
Interviewers can tell a great deal about your interest in a job based on how often you smile and pay attention throughout the interview.
There is a catch though. You don’t want to come off as inauthentic or fake through the use of a fabricated smile. Interviewers will notice that right away.
15. Silence Your Phone
This is a really easy tip to make sure that your interview goes well — silence your phone. We’ve all seen the advertisements and warnings that flash before attending a movie — where your undivided attention is requested throughout the feature.
An interview is conducted much the same way. Both the interviewer and interviewee are spending a considerable amount of precious time conducting the interview, and you should showcase your dedication to the meeting by silencing your phone.
In the odd chance that your interview is interrupted by your phone, you will come off as rude.
If you’re tempted to look at your phone to see who it might be, avoid it at all costs. If you can, quickly silence your phone in your pocket without losing your attention on the interviewer.
Make sure you quickly apologize and indicate you thought you had turned it off.
16. Use A Social Media Cleaner
It seems like it’s common news that we hear about some mistake a professional makes on their social media account. Whether it’s accidentally liking an inappropriate page, making an inappropriate comment, or posting inappropriate pictures - you need to evaluate your social media accounts.
One critical thing to remember before your interview is that interviewers will do their background on you before the interview.
It’s part of the selection process, and increasingly companies are asking employees to review their social media profiles due to the fact that they represent the business in their own professional capacity.
If you don’t want to spend delicate time reviewing the deep history of your social media profiles to make sure that you appear as professional as possible, there are also social media cleaning applications or services you can enroll with to reduce some of the concerns of your profile.
17. Craft Your Story Statement
One common question that your interviewer will ask you before or after your interview is to detail a little bit about yourself.
This question is highly poised as a, “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” scenario.
These questions are designed to get a basic synopsis of who you are, what some of your passions are, and where you want to go in your career in a short explanation.
When you are getting ready for your interview, write down what you want to remember and make sure that you can memorize it. It shouldn’t be a page long or drag on for an extended period of time.
You want to craft a compelling short explanation of who you are, what passions you have for the position that you are applying for, and why you should be the leading applicant in their eyes.
In addition, you want to make sure that your short story is easy enough to remember so that it flows from you with ease.
One of the worst things that you should do is say, “Well I pretty much told you everything about me,” after you answer some of the interview questions.
Another thing you want to avoid is not having anything else to say when they ask, “Is there anything else you would like to tell me?” They are essentially inviting you to give them a final closing statement that reaffirms the belief that you are the essential candidate to hire.
Not many employers or recruiters will offer this chance to give you a closing statement or offer a chance to remind them why you believe the opportunity is meant for you. Use it to your advantage.
18. End On A Positive Note
Last but not least, you want to make sure that you end your interview on a positive note.
You want to end your interview on a positive note, and once again thank them for the opportunity to interview you for the position, and remind them that you will follow up with them in the future.
We will discuss how you should follow up after the interview in a future chapter, Ch.5: Interview Follow Up.
Remember that your demeanor and nonverbal communication should send the message that you are a capable, competent, intelligent, and professional person.
Ensure the employer, hiring manager, or healthcare recruiter the best you, and try and relate to your interviewer; they are people too. Don’t let down your guard and remain professional at all times.
Keep your voice firm, but avoid being intense and overbearing. Slow down when you’re talking - it’ll help you stay on topic and organize your thoughts.
Pause before answering questions so it seems you’re taking careful consideration.
Above all, be friendly and genuine. If you just be yourself, you won’t have to pretend to be something you’re not.
These interview tips will help ensure that you’re ready for the interview and help you stand out amongst the other candidates.