“A human being’s first responsibility is to shake hands with himself.” — Henry Winkler
My article was originally featured on the USA TODAY COLLEGE website (By: Jen Glantz)
You’ve fine-tuned your resume, written a catchy cover letter and spent countless hours sweating anxiously while waiting to hear whether potential employers were dazzled enough to meet you in person. Now you get the good news: You’ve landed an interview for the job of your dreams!
While there’s often a great deal of focus placed on what you should bring with you on an interview — a thick portfolio snuggled in the palm of one hand and the other ready to give a strong handshake — it’s equally as important to remember what you should not take through the front door.
Think of the items below as a friendly push toward making a stellar first impression and winning over employers by leaving them with a sparkle in their tired, overworked eyes.
• A negative attitude about your previous employer
On an interview, you may be asked why you want to leave your current job or what your true feelings are on your boss and the long, grueling hours you’ve worked at a job you never want to think of again. Talking badly about a previous employer or a position will resonate with future employers.
Instead of saying you’re desperate to leave your current position (that is only giving you massive amounts of indigestion and the sprouting of gray hair), emphasize what the new company has to offer or what it is that makes you want to take this wonderful opportunity that’s before you.
• Bad phone etiquette
Most of us forget that our cellphones have an actual “off” button and tend to think that switching them to mute is sufficient. It’s very important to go into airplane mode or shut those devices completely off.
Having your musical ringtone go off on during an interview or giving into the urge to text someone back while you are supposed to be answering the “What’s your biggest weakness?” question are avoidable deal breakers.
• Personal issues
You may have just sat in hour’s worth of traffic or had a car race by and splash a puddle all over your black suit. Maybe your boyfriend just called it quits on your steamy relationship or your mom just told you that she is no longer willing to give you a couple of hundred dollars a month toward your overpriced rent.
While these are good tales to vent to your friends about, don’t bog down employers with this information. Your first impression will flood them with a strong case of TMI (too much information) and impede your excitement about working for them.
• Rehearsed and robotic answers
It’s OK to talk to yourself, especially to prepare for interviews, speeches and, hey, even first dates. And while it’s important to prepare for interviews as much as possible, make sure to interject passion and liveliness that doesn’t make it sound like you’re reading off a script.
• Stage-5 clinging nerves
Trying to get those shaky hands and heart-pumping nerves to stay at home while you go on an interview is hard, but it’s important to acknowledge them before you enter. Accept that you are scared and that this interview means a lot to you and your future.
Take a deep breath before answering questions and begin by telling employers about yourself — something you know very well. That way, all the questions that follow will be calmed by a solid delivery and inner knowledge that not only are you qualified for this position, but you are also determined.
Interviews have a way of making all of us jittery, the same way that first dates or getting a cavity filled at the dentist does. But it’s important to bundle up all of our uncertainty and bad habits and drop them on the floor before we leave our homes.