Job interviews are a lot like getting a flu shot — the anticipation is often way worse than the actual experience. But before a job interview, you may find yourself to be an absolute wreck: stiff and shaky, re-reading your notes over and over, chugging a large coffee, and trying to memorize answers as fast as possible.
If you're nervous before job interviews, you're absolutely not alone. According to a 2016 study by Harris Interactive and Everest College, 92 percent of adults in the U.S. feel anxious before a job interview. That means, that despite all the question prep and confidence boosters we do beforehand, many of us still feel like we're going into job interviews blind as a bat.
"Just the idea of applying to a job is stressful." Alexandra Finkel, Bustle's Editorial Operations Director, says, "There is so much unknown — you don’t know who is looking at the application and you don’t know what they want. It’s sort of like when you’re in a relationship and you have no idea what your partner wants at all." Sound familiar?
Here are nine expert tips from a well-seasoned interviewer, so that you're no longer caught off guard, no matter your field.
1Open Body Language
Your body language can be a key indicator of how you're feeling about the job and the situation. "If you have good posture, and you’re feeling good about yourself, it’s going to show", Finkel says.
Throwing your shoulders back and your chin up exudes confidence. By physically opening up your body to your interviewer, you can reflect an open state of mind.
When an interviewer asks a question, it's OK to tell a personal story as long as it is relevant to your eventual answer. Just make sure you do answer the question directly though.
To avoid going too far off on a tangent, Finkel says to pause after they ask a question. "Take a moment to collect yourself before you come up with an answer that best reflects yourself," she says.
Sometimes when we prep a lot in advance, we come off as rehearsed and a bit robotic. Take a deep breath and loosen up. Finkel advises picking out a few points that you’re hoping to get across throughout your interview ahead of time, and trying to find a way to weave them into your answers. Your personality is an asset, not a vice. Remember: an interviewer wants to get to know the you in real life, not the one on paper.
4Prior Knowledge of the Job
With that being said, make sure you research the history of the company and your specific role in advance so that you can provide thorough, thoughtful answers to each question.
"Prior knowledge of the job is non-negotiable" says Finkel, "Doing extensive research will not only help with answers and confidence, but show the interviewer that you invested the time in doing that search."
5Confidence In Your Skills
Never second-doubt or undersell yourself in an interview. If you are unsure whether or not you are qualified for the job, it'll show. If you don't believe in yourself, why should your interviewer believe in you? Of course, if you're applying to an entry level job, you're not going to know everything, but Finkel says that it's more about overall confidence in who you are as a person and what you could bring to the table. Be your own biggest fan!
Be respectful, but don't be afraid to take initiative during the conversation. Share ideas that you've brainstormed while prepping or things that you love that the company has done in the past. Just make sure you share them at the appropriate time.
"Showing initiative is great, but there’s a way to do it." Finkel says. "You don’t want to act like you know more than your interviewer. Come up with several really good ideas and don’t ever interrupt."
Breaking eye contact during an interview can be a key indicator that you're getting flustered or are caught off guard by a question. With that being said, not everybody will have perfect eye contact. Even if something takes you by surprise, take a deep breath, and try not to look down. "Eye contact comes with the whole package," Finkel says. "It’s important, and I recommend having good eye contact, but it’s not an end-all-be-all."
Ask a lot of questions, like who was in the role before you and what made them successful? What is the working environment like?. Questions are a great form of engagement because they not only demonstrate that you've been intently listening, but that you've been contemplating the role for quite some time. Finkel also recommends asking very specific questions, so that the interviewer can provide exact answers.
Above all, interviewers want to hire someone who will carry out a role with passion and purpose. So be sure to emphasize what an honor it would be to be an employee of the company and thank them for the opportunity.
"Sometimes I will work harder to try to get someone hired if I feel they absolutely love the company, believe in the mission, and want to be a part of the team." Finkel says. "I’m going to try my best to allow them to be part of that."
So there you have it — what interviewers are looking for, across industry lines. Go get 'em!