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Student Success Center - Career Services

Alertness may be the key in job interviews

Keep alert in job interviews? That may sound unnecessary as we are all nervous when talking with potential employers. But the evidence shows that too many people lose out on interviews because they fail to show high energy, enthusiasm, and sharpness when talking with employer reps. How should you show alertness? Here's a check list.

Arrive Enthusiastically.
When you come into the room, try to radiate energy. This doesn't mean leaping over desks - but walk in briskly, cheerfully, and as if you have been looking forward to this conversation. Hopefully, your enthusiasm will be contagious and the interviewer will think, "Here's a really alert candidate."

Watch Your Body Language.
It goes without saying that good eye contact is important - not staring unceasingly into the interviewer's eyes - but keep looking the interviewer in the face. Also when you are making some really important point, look right at the interviewer, not just staring into space.

Posture Perfect.
Sit up straight, don't lounge in the chair. You can relax when you get home, but not while interviewing. One authority says that when you sit up on the edge of the chair it looks like you are really interested in what's going on.

Animation Helps.
Keep the volume of your voice at a level which communicates alertness and your own basic self-confidence. This can be difficult when the interviewer seems bland, but if you emulate his or her laid back style you are likely to appear bland and disinterested yourself.

Be Specific.
When asked, or when you volunteer information, about your past education, work, or other activities, be prepared to talk in precise detail about what you did, learned, and (most importantly) your unique and noteworthy achievements. If you don't communicate them, nobody will. Try to show how your extra effort or good planning paid off in past situations.

Use Positives.
Try to minimize all negatives which come up. Your goal is to communicate enthusiasm and satisfaction with your education, past jobs, and your way of life. If you are asked questions with a negative spin, respond quickly and briefly. And answer more fully when you can make a positive response.

Anticipate Tough Questions.
Your enthusiasm and self-confidence may be hurt if you are asked tough questions, unless you have prepared for them. Think about the best way to respond to such questions as "What your your major weaknesses?" or "What did you dislike most about your last job?" or the classic, "What kind of people rub you the wrong way?"

Minichart prepared by the Career Opportunities News, PO Box 190, Garrett Park, MD 20896.