How To Behave During Job Interviews

Let’s cut to the chase: We’ve all been there, palms sweaty, voice a notch higher than usual, trying our darnedest not to look like a deer caught in the headlights. Job interviews can feel like subjecting your self-esteem to a rollercoaster ride, with the added bonus of having to articulate your life’s achievements while you’re at it. In this blog post, I promise you’ll find actionable, straightforward advice to navigate the often nerve-wracking world of job interviews. So, let’s get you from nervous to confident, shall we?

Quick Takeaways:

  • Rehearse answering “Tell me about yourself” by threading your past, present, and future into a compelling narrative that showcases your career’s spine.
  • Practice non-verbal cues like power poses to boost confidence, and always aim for balanced eye contact to avoid seeming disinterested or overly aggressive.
  • Craft insightful questions to ask at the end of the interview, particularly ones that explore the role’s evolution and impact on the company.

What Can You Do to Prepare the Night Before?

Preparing for a job interview doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience. In fact, with the right preparation, you can approach it with confidence and ease. Let’s break down what you can do the night before to set yourself up for success:

  • Review the job description: This is your cheat sheet. Pay close attention to the skills and experiences emphasized, and think of examples from your own career that match these requirements.

  • Research the company: Dive deep into their website, recent news articles, and their social media profiles to get a sense of their culture, achievements, and challenges. Sites like Glassdoor can also give you insight into company reviews and interview processes.

  • Choose an appropriate outfit: First impressions count, so pick out an outfit that’s not only professional but also makes you feel confident. Remember, it’s always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed in these scenarios.

  • Get a good night’s sleep: Your brain needs rest to function at its best. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep to ensure you’re sharp and ready to tackle any question thrown your way.

How Should You Greet Your Interviewer?

The way you greet your interviewer can set the tone for the entire interview. A positive first impression can go a long way, so here’s how to nail it:

  • A firm handshake: Although some may argue the handshake is becoming less common, in a professional setting, a firm (not bone-crushing) handshake will convey confidence. If you’re interviewing remotely, a verbal greeting with a smile works just fine.

  • Smile sincerely: A warm, genuine smile can help ease any tension and help both you and the interviewer feel more comfortable.

  • Initiate small talk: If the opportunity arises, engaging in a brief session of small talk shows your interpersonal skills. A simple comment about the weather or expressing your excitement about the opportunity can set a positive vibe.

What Body Language Mistakes Should You Avoid?

Your body language speaks volumes during an interview. Here’s what you should watch out for to ensure you’re communicating positively through your non-verbal cues:

  • Avoid poor eye contact: Making too little or too much eye contact can be off-putting. Aim for a balanced approach – engaging but not staring. A good rule of thumb is to maintain eye contact for a few seconds at a time, then briefly glance away.

  • Beware of closed-off postures: Crossing your arms or legs can make you appear defensive or closed off. Try to keep an open posture by placing your hands on your lap and not crossing your arms.

  • Don’t fidget: Whether it’s tapping your foot, playing with your hair, or clicking a pen, fidgeting is a distraction and can convey nervousness. Keeping your hands clasped in your lap or on the table can help control this.

Unique Tip: Before your interview, take a moment to practice “power poses” in private. Research by social psychologist Amy Cuddy suggests that standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident, can boost feelings of confidence and impact our chances for success. While not a topic often discussed in interview prep, adopting a power pose for a couple of minutes before heading into your interview could give you that extra boost of confidence you need.

Remember, the goal of your interview isn’t just to demonstrate your qualifications – it’s also to show that you’re a person who would be a pleasant, engaging addition to their team. Keep these tips in mind, and you’re sure to leave a positive impression.

How Can You Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” Without Rambling?

When faced with the “Tell me about yourself” prompt during a job interview, it’s easy to fall into the trap of recounting your life story. However, interviewers aren’t looking for your autobiography. They’re interested in understanding who you are professionally, how you got to the current point in your career, and where you’re headed. Here’s how to structure your response to be concise, engaging, and relevant:

  1. Start With Your Present
    – Begin by talking about your current role and responsibilities. Highlight what skills you’re utilizing, accomplishments, and how it’s relevant to the position you’re applying for. For instance, “I’m currently a Digital Marketing Manager at XYZ Corp, where I’ve successfully increased our lead generation by 30% through targeted social media campaigns.”

  2. Briefly Touch on Your Past
    – Give a quick overview of how you got to your current position. Focus on experiences and roles relevant to the job you want. Example: “Before this, I honed my skills in social media marketing by working for a start-up, where I learned the importance of agility and creativity in digital marketing.”

  3. Conclude with Your Future
    – Explain why you’re excited about this potential role and how it aligns with your career goals. Make it clear that you’ve done your homework and understand how this position fits into the broader industry. For example, “I’m enthusiastic about the opportunity to bring my expertise to your team, especially given your company’s commitment to innovation in marketing technologies.”

The Unique Tip: Most advice stops at telling you to cover your past, present, and future. However, here’s a nugget of gold: weave a common thread through your narrative. If you’re in marketing, maybe it’s your passion for storytelling and how it’s been the spine of your career trajectory. This gives your audience a memorable storyline to follow, making your answer not just structured but striking.

What Questions Should You Ask at the End of the Interview?

The questions you pose at the end of an interview can indeed help you stand out. They show your enthusiasm for the role, your proactive mindset, and your strategic thinking. Here’s a mix of insightful questions designed to showcase your interest and give you valuable insights into the company and role:

  • What does success look like for this position? This demonstrates your desire to hit the ground running and your intention to align with the company’s goals.

  • Can you describe the company culture? It shows you’re looking beyond the role and are interested in fitting into the company as a whole.

  • What are the team’s biggest challenges currently? This question can highlight your problem-solving mindset and readiness to tackle obstacles.

  • What does the typical career path look like for someone in this role? Indicates your ambition and long-term interest in growing with the company.

  • What are the next steps in the interview process? A practical question that shows eagerness without seeming pushy.

The Unique Question: One question that is often overlooked but can provide deep insights is, “How has this position evolved since it was created?” This not only shows your interest in the role’s importance and the company’s adaptability but also gives you a peek into the future and potential for growth or change in the job you’re applying for.

By tailoring your questions based on the company and the conversation during your interview, you display genuine curiosity and engagement. Each question should open up a dialogue that not only impresses your potential employer but also gives you a clearer picture of whether the position and company align with your career goals and values.

  • Alex Mitch

    Hi, I'm the founder of! Having been in finance and tech for 10+ years, I was surprised at how hard it can be to find answers to common questions in finance, tech and business in general. Because of this, I decided to create this website to help others!