You’ll feel more confident at the end of your interview if you control the conversation from the beginning. Keep these tips in mind.
Your interview is a few hours away, and you’re as nervous and jumpy as a human espresso bean (which makes sense, considering how much coffee you’ve gulped down this morning). Most of your thoughts are fears: What if you’re late? What if you say the wrong thing? What if your handshake isn’t strong enough?
But fear rarely makes a strong impression. Instead of quaking and , take control of the process from the start by keeping these considerations in mind.
1. Grow up
Job interviews have a tendency to transport us back to childhood, a time when we strove to please our elders and stay out of trouble. But resist this tendency. You and your interviewer are two adults who’ve earned a place in the world and a seat at the table.
You’re going to have a simple conversation. You’re not here to be judged, scolded, punished, tested or cross examined. And if you’re treated this way, you don’t want that job.
2. Clarify, don’t guess
If you don’t understand your interviewer’s question, that’s his fault, not yours. Don’t fumble or mumble your way toward whatever you think he meant. Simply say, “I don’t understand the question. Can you rephrase?”
3. Honesty wins — always
If you have to choose between telling your story in your own words or telling your interviewer , choose the first. At some point, you may be asked to describe your feelings, your plans or the lessons you learned from the past. Think about the question for a few seconds before you speak. Then speak from the heart.
4. You’re a specialist, not a jack-of-all trades
Young candidates often assume that the more they can do, the more they’ll impress their interviewers. They claim to be all-around superstars (hard workers, tech pros, brilliant writers, mathematicians and natural leaders) who turn everything they touch into gold.
Instead, focus on what you really do — the skills you have to offer that others don’t. Let the other things go.
5. You’re not a “social media expert” (unless you are)
You may have a Facebook account, and you may be a Millennial, but these alone don’t make you a social media expert or a social media marketing pro. , and if you use them to describe yourself, you’ll need to back up that claim.
But here’s the good news: you don’t have to do this. Especially if this isn’t a social media marketing job. Focus on your degree in chemistry, your background in art history or your child development experience, and don’t let your interviewer put you on the defensive because you haven’t updated your Twitter feed in a while.
6. Manage your appearance and non-verbal cues
Whatever you decide to wear to your interview, look clean, neat, pressed and sharp. Your clothes should look new, especially your shoes. Your posture should be confident and relaxed. Keep the conversation flowing in two directions. Judge as much as you’re judged, and ask some questions instead of answering each one and passively waiting for the next.
is a career advisor and job search expert who provides consultation for staffing firms, hiring managers and job seekers across every industry. Her blogs and articles appear regularly on , home of .