Mind Your (Interview) Manners: Part 2

How not to botch that critical point of the application process

Business Coach Column by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) from the Manila Bulletin

Your job interview will determine your success in your job application. You must be able to sell yourself to the interviewer to convince him / her that your are the right person for the job. Everything that can help must be considered and displaying the right manners may give you the winning edge.

As a job interviewer, I learned to master the art of reading body languages and body signs. Not only do I listen to what the applicant say, but I also assess how the interviewee conduct himself / herself during the process.

I have always stressed the importance of being prepared for a job interview. You need to bring all the necessary documents, but most important of all, never fail to bring a lot of “common sense”.

How to Handle Your Job Interview:

Do not interrupt when the interviewer is talking. I remember there was one applicant who does all the talking that I never got the chance to open my mouth. Then there was another one who always interrupted and finished all my sentences for me. If you think this is one strategy to buy time, it won’t work. The interviewer may just think that you are acting fresh or being too aggressive.

Do not get drawn into an argument. If you don’t agree with what the interviewer is saying, you may state your position then move to the next topic. Don’t be too pushy or act manipulative. The worst I’ve encountered was when I interviewed a candidate who argued with everything I said—even before I had a chance to finish what I was saying!

Smile and be as relaxed and composed as possible. Refrain from looking out the window or glancing at your watch during the interview. When I interview applicants who do not look at me, I presume that they are not listening, or are probably just trying to hurry me up.

Show warmth and genuine interest. If you are a fan of Lady Gaga, I’m sorry but appearing “Poker Face” won’t work. It leaves the interviewer guessing whether you understood what was discussed. Give verbal feedback so the interviewer will know that you are paying close attention to the conversation (say “Yes,” “That’s right,” “I agree,” or “I understand”).

Respect the interviewer’s personal space. Do not stand or sit too close. Moreover, refrain from toying with the interviewer’s personal things. Refrain from touching wall paintings, trophies, plants or anything you find fanciful in the office. I will not forget an applicant who touched and broke my glass paperweight. It is not actually pricey, but it was a gift from my wife!

Ask questions. This will confirm your interest in the position. If something is vague, you may ask for clarification. However, do not ask too many questions. You may pose at least two or three intelligent questions throughout the interview.

Do not stare at the interviewer. You may maintain eye contact, but staring is unethical. The interviewer may get distracted or feel annoyed. I remember I interviewed an applicant who kept staring at me from top to the bottom. She looked as if she was appraising me! I was wondering if I have dirt on my face, a tear in my polo, an open zipper, mud on my shoes, etc.

Let the interviewer tell his / her story. If the interviewer seems excited talking about himself / herself, let him / her be. Listen well, and try to read between the lines. Watch your body language. Show you are listening by leaning a little forward towards the interviewer. Keep your arms uncrossed, and maintain good eye contact. Smile, nod, or laugh with the interviewer.

When there are many qualified applicants, the interviewer may base his / her decision on your manners. This is justified since your interview behaviour is indicative of your personality. If you do not take care to conduct yourself professionally while being scrutinized then it is only to be expected that you will do worse in the future. Small things may mean a lot.

(All rights reserved. Copyright by Manila Bulletin and Ruben P. Anlacan, Jr. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)



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