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Know What to Say on a Job Interview

Interview Tips

How to Act During Interviews

Smile, immediately offer a firm handshake, introduce yourself, and say something like, "I'm pleased to meet you." or "I've been looking forward to talking with you." Be sincere and avoid informal greetings that you might use to greet your friends. Take the polite, conservative route.

Read the mood. If the interviewer is formal, then you probably should be, too. If the interviewer is casual, then follow along while remaining courteous and professional.

In either case, try to appear to be relaxed, but not too relaxed. It's not a good idea to put your feet up on the interviewer's desk! In fact, wait to be told to take a seat or ask if you may and then say thank you. This shows good manners.

If it's possible without making a commotion, scoot your chair a little closer to the interviewer's desk or take the chair closet to the desk, like you're ready to dive right in. This shows interest and confidence. But don't invade the interviewer's personal space, a perimeter of about two feet by U.S. standards.

Sit with good posture, but avoid looking as stiff as a board. If you don't know what to do with your hands, keep them folded in your lap. This is another indication of good manners. Avoid crossing your arms over your chest, as it subliminally demonstrates a closed mind to some.

Even formally-trained interviewers are regular people like you, so they'll expect you to be a little nervous while sitting in the "hot seat." Still, try to avoid obvious signs like fidgeting.

Maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Avoid staring or you might make the interviewer uncomfortable; but, don't look away too often either. To some, failure to maintain a comfortable level of eye contact indicates that you are lying, reaching for answers or lacking confidence.

Don't eat, drink, chew gum or smoke, or even ask if it's okay. But, if your interviewer offers a beverage, it's okay to accept if you have a dry mouth from nervousness, yet steady enough hands to avoid spills. If you do accept a beverage, ask for a coaster or something else on which to place it, instead of placing it directly on the interviewer's office furniture. This shows good manners too.

It's probably best to say no thanks to snacks (unless you're at an interview meal), so you don't accidentally drop crumbs in your lap, be forced to talk with your mouth full, and all that other stuff your parents told you to avoid while eating.

Speaking of which, if you are attending an interview meal, show good table manners. For example, place the napkin in your lap and don't order anything complicated and messy to eat like ribs or crab legs, and avoid bad-breath foods like garlic and onions; chew with your mouth closed, keep your elbows off the table, and order only moderately-priced items.

To keep your mind clear and your image clean, don't order alcohol even if your interviewer does. Let your interviewer pick up the tab and be sure to thank him or her for the meal.

It's okay to ask questions as your interview progresses, to better answer questions that your interviewer asks you. But withhold the bulk of your questions until the interviewer asks if you have any, which is typically toward the end of an interview.

Typically, you'll negotiate salary and discuss benefits, perks, and such in a follow-up interview or near the end of your first. Regardless, don't raise those topics until your interviewer does; but, be ready to discuss them at anytime.

Toward the end of your interview, ask your interviewer if it's okay if you follow up in a few days with an email or phone call. To get contact info, ask for his or her business card.

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