How to Impress at a Job Interview: Good Technique

You're doubtless aware of the need to say the right thing (and not say the wrong thing) at interview.

You should also be aware that your appearance and general manner - the non-verbal signals you give, and the way you speak - will also usually form part of your assessment.

Clean and Tidy

Does this even need to be said? Clean, ironed and relatively new clothes are essential. If your appearance doesn't say 'I made an effort' you have just missed the easiest part of the interview to get right.

First Things First

It starts before you have even spoken; you create your first impression as you enter the room and shake their hand. A firm handshake and eye contact is important at this stage. Bear in mind that you're likely to be feeling a bit hyped up, so make an effort to be enthusiastic but assured; a crushing grip and a manic stare is just as bad as the dreaded 'dead fish' handshake and little or no eye contact.

Time is Relative

The key is to relax and pace yourself. If you do feel nervous, make an effort to speak a little more slowly and clearly than you normally do, and to move more deliberately and slowly than normal, because you'll be 'sped up' inside and what seems slow to you is actually perfectly normal. One trick is to concentrate on pronouncing each word clearly and individually. And don't be afraid to pause for thought before you answer questions either. Your answers will be better for it.

Smile if You Want To

If the job is one you would be happy in, then it's OK to enjoy your interview! A genuine smile is a sign of confidence; but don't fake it if you're not feeling it.

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

What makes a good speaker? In a word, passion. A genuine passion for the subject always shines through. Forget trying to be interesting or funny and just focus on what you want to say. A natural interest in the subject being discussed will lead to interesting conversation. That leads to a rapport between you and the interviewer(s). That will allow you to relax, and if humour then enters the conversation it will do so naturally. The key is that you must be interested in and committed to the conversation; if you're not, then why are you there?  

Good posture is important

Never slouch, even when waiting in reception. Sitting upright with your head raised is important for two reasons. The first is that your body language says 'I am paying attention; this is important to me'. The second is that with your head raised you can observe what's going on. Often the interviewer will not have you sent through from reception, they will come and get you. If you are observant and ready to meet their eye as they walk into the room you've already made a good first impression.

Eye Contact is Vital

Never stare at the floor, or out of the window, or past the person that is speaking to you. When someone is speaking to you, look at their face. When you are speaking it is OK to break eye contact for a while; in fact this is perfectly natural when remembering or thinking. But make sure that as you finish what you are saying you regain eye contact. Another good technique to show that you are paying attention whilst someone is speaking is to nod when they make a point - but don't overdo it!

Hand Movement

Hand movement when you are talking is fine; most of us use gestures as part of normal conversation. The important thing is to keep your hands still when you are not talking - and especially when someone is talking to you. If you are worried that you will fidget and that your hands need 'something to do' (especially if your chair doesn't have arms that you can rest them on) then a good technique is to interlock your fingers and leave your hands in your lap.

If you're really worried then why not practice with a friend? Good luck!