How do job interviews make you feel? If you're like most people, the answers might be: anxious, shy, and maybe a little bit hopeful. Having those feelings just means you're human. But if you want to land the job, you should display a whole different set of emotions.
That advice comes from State University of New York New Paltz psychology professor Glenn Geher, Ph.D. In a blog post on the Psychology Today website, Geher cites some of the recent research on the psychology of job interviews to identify the sentiments that make people want to hire job candidates. You can read the full post here. These are some of the most important.
"As silly as it might seem, people automatically favor those whom we see as 'warm' as opposed to those whom we see as 'cold,'" Geher writes. Warm people smile, compliment others, agree with others, and try to put people at their ease, he adds.
Complimenting or agreeing with someone who's interviewing your for a job might or might not feel natural, and you should be careful not to sound phony, and not to say anything you don't actually mean. But you're talking to someone you want as a future colleague or boss, so you should want to like the interviewer, and for him or her to like you. So go ahead and smile. And--at least during the interview--do your best to like the interviewer and the company. If you truly can't do that, you probably wouldn't be happy working there.
"Conscientiousness is nearly always one of the most sought-after qualities in employees," Geher writes. "People who are conscientious nail down the details, beat deadlines, and get the job done."
The nice thing about conscientiousness is that it isn't something you have to fake--in fact, it's probably not possible to fake it. Instead, you have to actually do it. Take the time to research both the company and the interviewer you'll be meeting with. Come armed with samples of your work (if appropriate) and as much information as you can find about the questions you might be asked. Be ready to answer questions with concrete examples from your past work experience, including successful projects you've led and failures you've learned from, since most interviews these days include a question about failure.
And make sure to map your route to the interview and then leave enough time to arrive early, even if it means you'll have to spend some time in the coffee shop across the street. If something unexpected happens to delay you, you'll be glad you gave yourself that cushion.
If you're truly certain that you'll do brilliantly well at both the interview and the job, then it may be that the job is too easy and you should be reaching for something more challenging. It's much more normal to feel nervous and uncertain, which is fine, but it won't help you to behave that way.
So acknowledge the very human fact that you have butterflies in your stomach (if you do), and then try to set them aside and focus on the reasons you'll be really great at this job. Research shows that self-confidence is an appealing trait in the workplace. Needless to say, there's a difference between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance can be off-putting just as confidence is attractive, so make sure you're on the correct side of that line. Telling an interviewer that you're certain you can complete a task successfully because you did it many times at your last job is confident. Saying that you'll complete the task and also revamp the company's existing processes because they're inefficient is arrogant.
Geher notes that when he gives a task to one of his team's confident members, he never worries about whether it will be completed or not. That's how you want people to feel when they entrust you with a task, or hire you for a job.