In any given assortment of advice on interview success, you will likely find suggestions along the lines of “Relax! Just be yourself and have a good time!” Or “Mimic the actions of your interviewer. If they are relaxed, you can relax!” I’ve even heard people utter the misguided advice to take a shot before an interview to ease your nerves. Put down that bottle of Jack and listen up!
Now, the purpose of this blog is NOT to stress you out. We know you agonized over the decision of selecting your interview outfit a week ago, you MapQuested directions to the office and even test drove the route yesterday, and went over your interview questions in your sleep, and the last thing you need is to stress out even more. It is true that relaxing and composing yourself so you don’t appear timid, scared, or anxious is crucial in an interview so you can convey your answers with confidence. However, it is important to be leery of the interview that is going TOO well, and to not fall into a casual or relaxed interview that will lead you straight back to the Careerbuilder job boards the next day. Even if an interviewer is sincerely relaxed and/or entertained by your conversation, it can be off-putting if they notice you are getting a little too cozy along with them. Some interviewers even purposefully take a relaxed posture and tone to see if the interviewee will stay professional or not. We know, the nerve of such trickery when you already have so much to worry about!
But it is an unfortunate reality, so here are a couple things to remember….
1) One area you should NOT relax is your attire. Even if the company has a casual dress code, it is important that you choose a professional outfit. True, it may be awkward to wear a 5-piece-suit to interview at a local restaurant, but you still should select attire that is professional in style and fit to ensure you are never “underdressed”; this will show the company you care enough about the position to want to make a positive impression.
2) Keep a professional posture and tone throughout the entire interview, no matter what. Just because the interviewer puts his feet up on the desk doesn’t mean you can slouch in your chair. If the conversation takes a jovial turn, you can adjust your answers for a less tense atmosphere, but maintaining a professional, engaged tone and alert posture will ensure the interviewer knows you are serious and passionate about obtaining a job.
3) One area where people can often times trip up and become overly relaxed or confident is the opportunity to ask questions back to the interviewer. It is important to be prepared with questions you have about the position, as it shows your interest in getting to know the company and seeing where you would fit in working there. However, still maintain a professional tone. Don’t let yourself turn the tables where it feels like you are running the interview, as this can appear arrogant and rub the interviewer the wrong way.
4) Remember to remain professional even when the interview is over. Even if you are sure you will get the position and the interviewer all but handed you the tax documents to sign and get started, leave the interview assuming another great candidate might come in and interview after you. Make sure to send a thank you card for their time and convey your interest in the position. Don’t ease up on your passion for your job in the follow-up; this is the opportunity to knock it out of the park and bring the interview home!
As previously mentioned, don’t stress yourself out to the point where you are not accurately portraying the “best version of yourself” in an interview. Relax and compose yourself to be certain your answers are sharp and confident. Don’t be so uptight that you cannot have a warm conversation with your interviewer or come off as not personable. However, keeping on your toes and remaining as professional as possible will show you care about your impression, and more importantly, about the position.