The 10 Commandments of Job Interviews
Commandment 1: Thou shalt not lie.
That doesn’t mean that you have to advertise your weaknesses. There are ways to reframe negatives and accentuate positives. However, it’s never a good idea to lie. Interviewers are good at sniffing out dishonesty and lies are likely to come back to haunt you. Besides, trying to keep your phony stories straight will just make you more nervous.
Commandment 2: Honour thy interviewer
Always act like you are interested. Show enthusiasm for the job and company. They want you to be as inquisitive about them as they are about you. Asking questions is always a plus, as long as they are professional and relevant.
The key to all questions prior to closing the deal is what you can do for them, not what they can do for you. You want to excel in the role, take on new challenges, and grow with the company.
You want to contribute, work hard, and make your interviewer’s job easier. You can ask about vacation time, bonus structure, and dress code after they make an offer.
Commandment 3: Thou shalt practice. Seriously.
Every book and article on job interviewing repeats the same advice: Practice answering questions before the interview. But how many people really do it? Not many.
Trust us: Preparation will help you tighten and refine your answers and make you feel much more confident. You absolutely cannot prepare too much.
Note: Practice, but don’t script and memorize your responses word for word. You want to sound confident and polished, not robotic.
Commandment 4: Thou shalt always keep the job requirements in mind.
Customize your responses to highlight the most relevant strengths and accomplishments for the job at hand. Future performance can be predicted by past behavior, so you should always be thinking of how your stories and examples relate to the job you are seeking.
The same applies to answering questions about weaknesses or failures. Never offer up a weakness that could raise a red flag about your ability to do the job at hand.
For example, if you’re an accountant, don’t ‘fess up to a lack of attention to detail. Choose an acceptable weakness that is not central to the position and make sure your answer conveys how you are already addressing the weakness or have learned from the mistake.
Commandment 5: Thou shalt not be boring.
Personality does matter, but not everyone is looking for a sparkling conversationalist. Chemistry is key in a team environment, and attention will be paid to how you are likely to fit in with others.
Commandment 6: Thou shalt be specific.
You want to be clear about your specific role, so think about how you use “I” and “we.” Interviewers will want to know that you can work well on a team, but they will also be interested in your individual contributions. In other words, “I” was able to do this and this helped the team, or “we,” to achieve success.
As a manager claiming success stories, recognize team members for their strengths but accent how you were able to harness them and put them to their most effective use.
Commandment 7: Thou shalt not babble on and on.
Don’t be afraid to talk, but be concise. Don’t ramble. Don’t go beyond two minutes on any single answer unless you are asked for more information.
Commandment 8: Thou shalt always answer the question asked.
It’s fine to also use a question as a jumping off point to bring up or reinforce a point that you’d like to make. However, avoiding a question can make it look like you’re trying to hide something.
Commandment 9: Thou shalt make non-creepy eye contact.
Eye contact is important. Steady, natural eye contact conveys confidence and sincerity — and helps you establish a connection with your interviewer. It sounds easy, but it may require some practice if you tend to be nervous or shy with people you don’t know.
Avoid the following eye contact mistakes: shifty looks, staring down, cleavage glances, eye rolling, intense over-compensating stare. Practice with a friend if you’re concerned that you haven’t mastered eye etiquette.
Commandment 10: Thou shalt follow up within 24 hours.
Follow up immediately after the interview, thanking the interviewer for their time. Reiterate how much you enjoyed the conversation and how excited you are about the prospects of working for the company. Email is fine for this, but a handwritten note can help you stand out with some interviewers. Remember to proofread carefully for typos and grammatical gaffes.