I have a moment of truth here. While I often know the “right” things to say and do before and after an interview, during interviews I tend to come off as cold and stilted.
By nature I tend to be quieter and a bit serious when I meet people the first few times, which can come off as cold and uncaring. So during interviews, I have to fight to appear more friendly and social (which I am, after I get to know someone for awhile). Once I am hired, and people get to know me, they trust me and the quality of my work. But getting to the point of being hired can be a struggle.
So if you have ever struggled with interviewing or meeting new people, I get that. Like it or not, even if you aren’t the best at interviewing, you have to build the skills so you can interview well. So here are some tips from me to you as person who has been on the giving and receiving end of some terrible interviews:
Be real, but be the best version of yourself - During an interview you should not be too casual, that means no slang, no slightly off-color jokes, etc. You also need to show some personality. They aren’t only thinking, can you do the job, but also will they like being around you and can they trust you around vendors and clients.
What about you rubs people the wrong way? Do you talk a lot? Do you come off as cold? Do you come across as overly eager? What can you do to minimize some traits that can start you off on the wrong foot, and make interviewers miss how you would be a perfect fit for the role? Take a hard look at yourself, and think about how you best connect with people. How can you bring that into an interview in a professional manner?
Personal tics - Have you ever been in an interview where someone repeatedly cracked fingers or rotated back and forth in a chair? It’s incredibly distracting. What about other awkward habits? It is important to have open body language (no crossed arms, folks), but you don’t want to constantly be moving around, and you definitely should not be slouching.
Record yourself during interview practice. Or, even better, practice with someone and have them give feedback on your body language. Are you looking up, down or straight ahead? Are you staring into someone’s eyes, like they hold the secrets of the universe? (No, don’t do that! It freaks people out.)
Once you acknowledge your weaknesses, practice softening your hard edges. Go to a bar, networking or social event and practice connecting with people. Practice with your friends and family. Pay attention to verbal and non-verbal cues. If you are a talker, take time to listen to others. If you are very quiet, force yourself to speak. The more effort you put into learning to interview and being the most professional version of yourself, the more natural you will be in those situations.