Interview

6 Things Hiring Managers Think But Don’t Say

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By Lindsay Olson

A job interview can be nerve-racking. Hiring managers, after all, are known for their poker faces; you can never really know what one is thinking about you, sweaty palms and all. Or can you? Here are six things that an human resources manager might be thinking, and how you can present your best self in an interview.

1. Will she always be late like this? Even if you’re normally punctual, showing up late to an interview can cause the hiring manager to wonder if this is a regular occurrence. She may reason that if you were serious about this job you would have taken measures to circumvent the traffic/getting lost/not knowing what to wear excuse you used upon coming in the door.

What to do: Give yourself twice as long as you think you need to get ready and drive to your interview. It’s better to be early than late and have her questioning your level of commitment. If you arrive early, stay in the car and practice your interview answers.

2. Is this how he’ll dress at work? Come to an interview in less than professional dress, and you might get a raised eyebrow from the person interviewing you. They say “dress for the job you want,” so if you come in wearing flip-flops or a mini-skirt, the hiring manager might assume you’re not professional enough for the job.

What to do: Even if you wear more casual clothing for the position you’re interviewing for, it’s better to dress up than to dress down.

3. Did he lie on his résumé? If you stumble when asked questions you should be able to answer, the employer may think you fibbed on your résumé. You might chalk it up to nervousness, but she may not see it that way. That’s why practicing how you’ll respond to certain questions, like those about your past work duties and accomplishments, can help you speak confidently in an interview.

What to do: Always, always be completely honest on your résumé, and prepare to back up and elaborate on anything an employer might have questions about.

4. Will he jump ship? If you have a short stint at a company (for less than a year), a hiring manager may wonder about your ability to commit to a job long-term. And it is, of course, her goal to find the right person for the job and avoid a difficult and costly replacement.

What to do: Prepare to overcome that obstacle immediately. While you don’t need to draw attention to it, you do need to be able to quickly explain those jumps and set the hiring manager’s mind at ease. You know what you’re looking for in your next move and can ask the right questions during the interviews to determine if the opportunity fits your needs and long-term career goals.

5. Is he this sloppy in his work? If your résumé is riddled with grammatical errors, you probably won’t even get a call for an interview. Even if your day-to-day job doesn’t involve a lot of writing, a hiring manager wants to know that you pay attention to your work and can catch mistakes without correction from a superior.

What to do: Proofread your résumé repeatedly. Use spell check. Proofread it again. Then have at least two friends proofread it. This is the one document you can’t send out with mistakes. Employers at this stage in the evaluation process can be unforgiving.

6. His personality isn’t a good fit. Your skills and experience plays a large role in a hiring manager’s decision of whether you’re the ideal candidate or not, but your personality and “culture fit” are equally important. This may be difficult to master, since you never know what she’s looking for in terms of what will mesh well with the existing team.

What to do: If you’re known for being outspoken, dial it down a little. If you’re normally shy and soft-spoken, ratchet it up. You want to be yourself and let your personality shine, but don’t allow your nerves to overemphasize some of your personality traits.

5 Body Language Moves That Will Ruin an Interview

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by Dave Johnson

Much of the information that we communicate happens non-verbally via subtle signals we put out with our posture, gestures and attitude. It’s no surprise, then, that your success in a job interview depends quite a bit on almost everything except what you actually say. Recently, WiseBread explained the most common body language mistakes people make in interviews — and how to avoid them. Here are the highlights:

Your handshake makes a critical first impression. Your dad probably taught you how to shake hands and his lesson was more important than you know. Make it firm — not body-builder-aggressive and certainly not feeble like a dead fish. Also, be sure your hand is dry, so if you’re perspiring, wipe it off before you meet your interviewer.

Don’t touch your face. People touch their faces instinctively and without conscious thought. But if you want to make a good first impression, you’ll need to be very conscious of where your hands are for the duration of the interview. Keep them well away from your nose and mouth, which can be a turn-off to germophobes. And for everyone else, touching your face is sometimes interpreted as a sign of dishonesty.

Don’t cross your arms. Even if you only know one or two ways to read body language, you probably know this one — crossing your arms is a sign of defensiveness and passive aggressiveness. That’s not the impression you want to convey, so put your hands on the table where they can’t cause you any trouble.

Don’t stare. You probably know that making eye contact is a good thing, right? Well, there’s a difference between positive eye contact and just plain staring. This is one of those things that should be natural, but if you think too hard about it, it is challenging to do in a natural way. The bottom line is that you want to maintain eye contact in moderation, without letting it devolve into uncomfortable staring. At the same time, don’t let your eyes wander around the room as if you’re bored.

Avoid nodding too much. You might think it’s a good idea to nod a lot, either to appear to agree with your interviewer or to imply you’re paying close attention, but the reality is that this can make you come across as sycophantic or spineless. Like eye contact, nod in moderation, and only when it’s clearly appropriate.