Friday, December 15, 2006

Interview behaviours

Body language and personal appearance represent one side of the
equation to building rapport and trust during an interview. The
other, equally important side, is how you behave and express yourself
during an interview.
Never argue
One of the worst things you can do at an interview is argue with
the interviewer. Even a very polite argument should never be
considered. Arguing will more than likely convince the interviewer
that you are argumentative by nature, which is not a trait that excites
employers. This is a point some interviewees forget—especially when
they’re convinced they’re in the right or the interviewer says
something that is evidently wrong. Also, some interviewers (usually
inexperienced ones) tend to downplay some of the things interviewees
say and add their own information or even make corrections (or
what they believe to be corrections). Encountering this type of
interviewer can be a very frustrating experience. It is at times such
as these that your smile can turn into a grimace and the rest of your
body can look like it is ready to launch into battle. However, the
effective interviewee will maintain discipline and continue to smile,
nod happily and utter little gems like, ‘Yes, that’s right,’ and ‘I
couldn’t agree more’.
You may be thinking, ‘I would never want to work for an inter-
viewer who is so disagreeable, so why should I be so agreeable?’
Whilst this is not an unreasonable thought, there are good reasons
to ignore it:
• The interviewer may not be the employer or your direct supervisor.
• Bad interviewers do not necessarily make bad employers.
• The interviewer may be inexperienced, nervous or having a
bad day.
Always do your very best at an interview, no matter how
objectionable you may find the interviewer. The whole idea of
attending an interview is to be offered a job. It’s up to you on
whether you accept the offer or not later on.
Avoid embellishments
It is tempting to exaggerate past achievements—after all, interviews
are all about making a good impression. The problem with inflating
past achievements is that you can easily lose your all-important
credibility, or be caught out later because you’ve said something
different. Embellishments can easily be seen through by experienced
interviewers, who will probably not tell you that they think you’re
gilding the lily, but instead will discount you for the job. This can
be a disaster if the interviewer is working for an important
employment recruitment firm which handles a large percentage of
the jobs you’re applying for. It can also be a disaster if you’ve
succeeded in winning the job and fail to live up to the hype you
were responsible for starting. It is best to stick to reality.
Avoid negatives
There is no point in attending an interview if you’re going to sit there
and highlight many of your flaws and defects. Here are some examples
of negative statements that send interviewers ducking for cover:
• ‘I would have been able to finish the project had I not been
clashing with my teammates.’ (You may have been working with
the teammates from hell, but the interviewer is likely to ques-
tion your team player abilities.)
• ‘I love working in call centres, but sometimes customer inquiries
drive me batty.’ (A good call centre operator can deal with all
types of customer inquiries, including the stupid ones.)
• ‘I generally enjoy managing people except when they start com-
plaining about their work. I don’t like whingers.’ (Most people
complain about work from time to time—the job of a good
manager is to listen and help, not think of staff as whingers.)
• ‘I don’t like things changing all the time. Just when you learn
one thing you need to unlearn it and learn something different.
There’s too much instability in some workplaces.’ (Unless you’re
applying for a rare job where things always remain the same,
this answer—given today’s rapid rate of change—could easily
enter the hall of fame for bad answers.)
• ‘I don’t like pressure.’ (Avoid this one unless you’re applying for
a fantasy job you’ve created in your head.)
• ‘I don’t like being told what to do.’ (You should be giving
serious consideration to starting your own business.)
• ‘I suffer from high levels of stress, so I need a stress-free job.’
(Another fantasy job.)
• ‘I don’t like working overtime.’ (A lot of people don’t like work-
ing overtime but it’s not the sort of thing to say at an interview.
Unless pressing commitments don’t allow you to, most jobs
require people to stay back sometimes.)
• ‘I get annoyed when people don’t understand what I’m talking
about.’ (Perhaps you’ve got a communication problem.)
• ‘I don’t know why, but people seem to be frightened of me.’
(Perhaps you’ve got a problem relating to people.)
• ‘I’m a slow learner.’ (Ouch!)
Negative statements frighten interviewers a great deal—remember,
they’re a conservative bunch. Being critical about your past
performances is tantamount to giving interviewers a reason for not
hiring you. Also, negative statements—because they scare
interviewers—tend to invite follow-up questions, which is the very
last thing you want happening at an interview. The whole idea is
to say things that will invite positive questions—that is, questions
that allow you to talk about all your strengths and wonderful
Some people think that pointing out negatives is a way of
demonstrating their honesty to the interviewer. Unfortunately for
them, the interviewer will only be thinking of ways of terminating
the interview. Other than things that will have a direct bearing upon
the job (such as a problem back in a job which requires heavy lifting),
it is no one’s business what your foibles may be. What you may
perceive as a weakness about yourself may not be regarded as one
by others. At the end of the day, interviews are about making the
best impression possible.

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