Top dos and don’ts for job interviews
Got a job interview coming up that is keeping you awake at night? Forget worrying about how you’re going to answer the interviewer’s questions and stop getting in a tizz over the formatting of your CV or the size of your portfolio. None of this really matters. New research suggests, rather, it’s the first 12 words that come out of your mouth that will determine the outcome of any interview.
The study, which was carried out by the Resurgo Trust, found that the first impression created by small talk on the way to the interview room can shape whether employers view candidates in a positive or negative light.
The trust – a charity that helps disadvantaged young people into work – found that recruiters and employers judged people primarily on the quality of their small talk.
So if it’s the first few words you say to the receptionist, or the way in which you greet your future boss that could make or break your interview, what other subtle changes should you make to secure your dream job?
We’ve taken a look at some top dos and don’ts in the dog-eat-dog world of job interviews.
Eye contact is key
Failing to make eye contact is an instant dealbreaker, according to careers website careerbuilder.co.uk, which found in a survey of employers last year that 60% of interviewers think it is the most important thing you can do to make a positive impression.
Keeping your gaze averted could make you come across as feeling intimidated. So if you are someone who struggles to maintain eye contact even with people you know, why not practise your pitch in a mirror to make sure you keep your eyes front and your gaze confident.
If staring into their eyes is all too awkward (and, let’s be honest, no one likes a starer) a good trick is to lower your eyes towards their nose. (Unless they’ve got a particularly unusual nose, in which case you might just offend them.)
The colour you wear could change everything
What you choose to wear communicates a lot about who you are and how you want others to see you. Indeed, some studies have shown that the colour you pick for an interview can determine how your future boss perceives you.
According to a survey produced by Career Builder, blue and black are the best colours to wear to an interview and orange is the worst.
Wearing white to an interview projects the idea that you are organised
Wearing white to an interview projects the idea that you are organised Photo: Alamy
Black apparently communicates “glamour, sophistication and exclusivity” and is generally seen as a colour that is taken seriously.
Grey says you are logical and analytical and can make you come across as independent, while white says you’re organised, and brown says you’re dependable.
Louder colours such as green, yellow and orange communicate that you are fun and creative, but it seems they don’t necessarily inspire trust. So put that lairy purple shirt to the back of the wardrobe and pull out a nice navy number.
Your walking style says it all
The Telegraph’s own Job Advice section recommends that when entering the interview room you give some consideration to your walk.
“As soon as you enter the building, your body language is being assessed. Walk tall with a straight back. It will make you look more confident when you go to enter the actual interview,” it says.
Don’t think about it too much though, or you’ll end up with a limp that wouldn’t look out of place in Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks.
A bad handshake can be a dealbreaker
Much like a first date, a job interview can spiral into total disaster in a matter of minutes with a misjudged greeting.
If you try to go in for a hug and a kiss then, frankly, you’ve got bigger problems. But even a slightly weak handshake can spell the end of what could have gone on to be an otherwise good interview.
A strong – but not knuckle-breaking – handshake will show you are in control and eager to impress.
Be mindful of personal space
Make sure you are aware of the interviewer’s personal space, especially if you’re prone to wild gesticulating.
It’s fine to come across simply as animated by using your hands while talking, but try not to go over the top with it. Waving your hands around in close proximity to your interviewer may alarm them, so make sure you maintain a good distance.
In the same vein, try not to lean on the interviewer’s desk. This could be seen as disrespectful and rather too casual for such a formal setting. Sit up straight in your chair and you’ll come across as confident and interested in what the interviewer has to say.
Don’t touch your ears or your nose
Are you secretly worrying about that bit on your CV where you said you spoke fluent French when actually you barely scraped a B at GCSE? Whatever you do, then, don’t fidget with your ear lobes or wipe your nose. This can, apparently, imply that you might be lying.
In fact, fidgeting of any kind will make you look nervous, so keep your hands under control.