By Matt Lowney
In all the years I've interviewed candidates there are a handful of basic interviewing pet peeves that I've developed. I know I'm not the only recruiter or hiring manager that feels the same way, so I thought I would provide some insight into how to become a better interviewee.
Be Attentive. I've sat through several interviews where I wondered “Is this guy even interested in the job?” Sometimes candidates don't even seem to be paying attention to what I have to say about the job or my company. While I'm sure some of this distraction is due to nervousness, you should really concentrate on being invested in the conversation we're having. Make eye contact and answer my questions directly and succinctly. Most hiring managers focus in on few core questions to keep their interviews short, so make sure you stay on topic. Starting sidetrack conversations during an interview may lead the interviewer to think you can't stay focused on the job.
Don't Interrupt. Sometimes candidates are so anxious to tell me about their accomplishments that they just start talking, even if they interrupt me. I don't think anyone likes to be interrupted, but it is particularly bad in the course of an interview. Sometimes interviewers can be long winded or appear to be side tracked in the conversation, but as a candidate, you should quietly sit there until it's your turn to speak.
Sit Still. Most people are uncomfortable in an interview, but some seem to fidget uncontrollably. Not only is this behavior distracting, some interviewers will assume you have something to hide. If you think you fall into this category, you need to consciously make sure your feet are squarely planted on the floor at all times and that you talk with your hands as little as possible.
Don't be Arrogant. In an effort to sell themselves, some candidates cross the line from confidence into arrogance. No one likes to work with an arrogant know-it-all and interviewers will try to screen out people with these personality traits. Even if you are a great candidate arrogance can make for a difficult teamwork environment. So, if you don't want to appear arrogant or over-confident during an interview make sure to temper your stories about how you saved the company from the brink of going out of business or how you re-organized your entire department over night.
Have Fun. While the word fun is rarely used to describe an interview, you should at least appear that you are enjoying the conversation. Most people would rather go to the dentist than sit through an interview, but appearances count. Besides, how else are you going to get that next great job without going through several interviews? So, you might as well enjoy the inevitable.
Matt Lowney is a corporate recruiter, radio host, and career consultant specializing in the areas of healthcare and information technology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional questions.