Some Notes on Job Interviews

Since returning from my European sojourn, I’ve also concluded a series of job interviews, including one conducted over the phone. While job-hunting is intense, everyone goes through it at some point and with each one, I learn that much more about communicating with potential employers. While I’m still building my knowledge base, I thought I’d share just three things I’ve picked up based on my recent experiences.

To look and feel your best, go for tried and tested favorites. Here are some of mine (L-R): gray sheath dress with flattering diagonal stripes, green three-quarters length cotton sweater and comfortable chocolate suede skirt, soft wide-leg trousers and peach nautical blouse.

1. Outfits. When I attend interviews, I always proudly repeat outfits that are tried and tested; I rarely go for brand-new articles of clothing that take time to break in, like new shoes or scratchy new pants. When you’re under pressure to deliver a great interview, the last thing you want to be thinking of is how uncomfortable you are. In the photo above, I share some of my repeat outfits this week, featuring some of my favorite pieces. Cotton 3/4-length shirts, soft wide-leg trousers, my sturdy ivory blazer-all of these have proven to work for me. Depending on the dress code of your potential new workplace, you might choose to add one interesting, eye-catching accessory. Try a good-luck charm with a backstory, like a brooch, or take it up a notch with a medium-sized pendant that pulls your outfit together.

You can choose to use technology to your advantage by keeping helpful pictures or brief (less than 30 seconds!) video clips on hand to show your interviewer. Make sure the content is general knowledge and not classified company information from your previous employer.

2. Use technology. In my previous job, I had some spare video clips and photos capturing some projects that I worked on. It was’t too hard to put them together into a quick and very visual slideshow and load them into my iPhone. If your interviewer is so inclined (gauge this by their non-verbal reactions to your answers), you might decide to show it to them. It’s a great way to give life to your interview. Just make sure the videos/photos run for less than 30 seconds, and that they don’t dominate the meeting. Rather, use them to emphasize your successes and the richness of your experience. Make sure you only show images or share information that’s available to the public; remember that very specific figures and some images may be property of your previous company and should not be shared.

3. Nerves. If you are like me and are susceptible to nerves before a big presentation or interview, it really helps to be aware of signs of anxiety and take conscious steps to fight them. My yoga teachers love to tell me to breathe through hard moments, taking the time to fill your lungs completely before exhaling. When you’re nervous or charged, do you feel your throat closing up or your voice becoming high-pitched? Drink some water and mindfully modulate your tone. When you face someone with strong presence, do you feel your posture drooping? Square your shoulders and make steady eye contact (career websites tell you to look at the forehead if eye contact is difficult for you). Finally, when asked a challenging question, take a couple of seconds to really think it over. I’ve learned that pausing for even just a moment helps me collect my thoughts and express myself better, rather than jumping in with an answer just to keep the perceived momentum going. When all else fails, I find that being earnest and sincere can improve an interview immensely.