How to Avoid An Awkward Interview

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Two interviewers discuss their doubt in the candidate they are interviewing.

It’s important to plan ahead for an interview, and cover all the essentials. Do your research, dress appropriately, and come with questions prepared. These steps are mostly common knowledge. However, it is possible that by trying to do right, you do wrong. For example, it’s important to maintain eye contact with your interviewer- but you don’t want to stare them down. It’s very possible to overdo it, so today we’ll be talking about the best way to avoid any awkwardness in your next job interview. 

Don’t Arrive Too Early

It’s especially important to be on time for a job interview. It’s not unheard of to be turned away from interviewing even if you’re just a minute late. However, the opposite can also hurt you. Arriving a half hour or an hour early to an interview can be incredibly awkward. By showing up that early, it’s possible you are throwing off your interviewer’s schedule.

This may result in you sitting in the waiting room the remainder of the time. Or perhaps the interviewer will change their schedule to suit you- something they may not be happy about. Either way, it’s an inconvenience to the interviewer that can easily be avoided. If you do arrive early, sit in your car and look over the job description and qualifications to buy some time.

Don’t Act Desperate

It’s entirely possible you’re going into an interview desperate for employment- but you shouldn’t show it. Begging a hiring manager for a position won’t work. In fact, it will practically guarantee you are turned down. Showing desperation will make the interviewer uncomfortable. That desperation also won’t inspire confidence that you would be a positive member of the team if and when they hire you.

No matter how you feel, put on a brave and confident face and walk into the interview. Even though this may be your 20th interview without a job offer, they don’t need to know that. Approach every interview with the same effort as you did the first.

Don’t Badmouth A Past Employer

The world is full of people of all kinds, both bad and good. It’s certainly an unfortunate scenario if one of these bad people is, or was, your boss. You may have been treated horribly, but you don’t need to bring those horror stories to your interview. If you are forced to address it, do so in an appropriate manner.

Discuss the situation, and don’t paint anyone in a negative light. Explain both viewpoints and discuss why you disagreed. Also, if you think you were in the wrong, admit so. No matter how justified, bad mouthing a past co-worker or boss will make you look petty and hard to get along with. That’s the last thing you want an interviewer thinking if they may hire you.

Don’t Be Too Friendly

A study by the American Psychological Association discovered that candidates who focus on being likable interview better than those trying to sell themselves. Obviously it’s a smart tactic, but going over the top with niceness could hurt instead of help. Even though you may want to be liked, it’s important to remember you are in a professional setting.

While you may have interacted with your interviewer before, they are still mostly a stranger. Make sure you maintain your professionalism and politeness when interviewing. It’s definitely possible to be likable and professional all at the same time!

Don’t Wear Too Much Perfume/Cologne

There’s nothing more unpleasant in an interview than being smothered by a foreign smell in a conference room. Wearing too much perfume, having on a gallon of cologne, or smoking a pack of cigarettes will all be a major put-offs for interviewers. Especially so if you are in a closed room. Make sure you are aware of any smells you might be bringing with you, because the interviewer will be too.

Don’t Sit In Silence

Let me set a scene- you’re heading to your interview. You sit down, and are greeted by an interviewer, however, you know you will be interviewing with two people. The first interviewer tells you the next person will arrive shortly. You sit there in uncomfortable silence. Not a great way for things to go.

For any situations like this, it’s not a bad idea to have a few ideas to talk about. They don’t necessarily need to be talking points, just conversation topics. Glancing through an industry magazine or checking news in your field online should do the trick. You can only talk about the weather so long, so it might be smart to be prepared. Talking about something within your field will score you extra points and keep the awkward silence at bay too!

Don’t Only Be Nice to Your Interviewer

A job interview is ultimately an exercise to find out what the real you is like, and how you would work as a part of the organization. This goes just beyond skills and qualifications, they also want to know how you work as a member of a team, and independently. So in addition to your qualifications, your personality will be judged as well. Companies can gauge this by looking at how you interact with all employees. You will of course try to impress the interviewer, but the way you treat the secretary who checked you in speaks volumes. Even if you’re just trying to make a good impression, make sure you are pleasant to everyone you encounter. It’s easy to focus on just the interviewer, but everyone’s opinion matters!

That’s all we have for today’s blog! Interviews can be stressful experiences, and they certainly don’t need any added stress an awkward encounter would bring. Preparing for the aforementioned circumstances should keep things smooth sailing. Do you have any incredibly awkward interview experiences you want share? If so let us know in the comments!

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