Looming worries about the job market often linger in the back of many students’ heads as they revel in the accomplishment of graduating. One particularly nerve-inducing aspect is that of the dreaded interview.
Soon-to-be graduates need not fear though because nailing their forthcoming job interviews and getting off on the right foot in their professional careers is well within their reach.
First, it is extremely important to relax. Although hackneyed advice, a 2016 study conducted by the Idiap Research Institute found that job applicants who were visibly stressed during interviews were viewed as less hirable.
Admittedly, this knowledge may add even more stress for some, but staying poised and confident is key, especially at the beginning of the process. Another study done in 2014 from the University of Glasgow asserts that accurate judgements about one’s personality can be made from a first impression, so it’s very important to make the most of that first moment.
Slow, deep breathing along with stretching are effective ways to reduce stress, according to Harvard Medical School.
Another more subtle way to display confidence to an employer is through nonverbal posturing. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, is a strong believer in the importance of body language. Her recommendations include sitting upright, making eye contact and relaxing one’s arms in their lap or on the arms of the chair.
Cuddy also advises not to fidget and touch one’s hair or face as it can convey nervousness or distraction. It’s also important to keep everything in reasonable moderation, not going overboard with any one technique.
While it was previously mentioned that relaxation is important, that doesn’t mean winging it will yield the best results, as preparedness is highly recommended going into an interview. Ways to do this include practicing mock interviews, knowing what kind of questions to expect and researching the company.
Laura Neal, college career specialist at CSUF for the arts department, suggests not only learning about the company, but also using LinkedIn to get an idea of who the recruiters are. This makes them less intimidating and gives yet another opportunity to impress a potential employer, rather than just making small talk.
Getting an idea of the appropriate attire is another important part of preparation, Neal said. Depending on the company and industry, some employers may expect a full suit while others may be more laid back. However, it is usually better to err on the side of caution and dress well for interviews.
“Even if they’re a casual company, as the person trying to get a job you always want to step up your game a little bit more,” Neal said.
Many employers will try to throw the interviewee off their rhythm by asking intentionally difficult questions, but in these situations, confidence will usually be more important to the interviewer than correctness.
“You’re just there to demonstrate how well you respond under pressure and stress more than anything,” Neal said.
A common question across all job interviews that tends to cause uncertainty is “What is your greatest weakness?” Picking a glaring weakness is sure to cause concern from the company, even if the interviewee is being honest. Instead, it’s better to pick a more moderate weakness that either has a positive spin to it or a practical solution to improve it.
Once the interview has finally concluded, it’s crucial to immediately follow up with an email or handwritten letter thanking the recruiter and anyone else who was there during the interview. This may seem like going above and beyond, but it is a simple and effective way of restating one’s eagerness and may just be the final touch to seal the deal.