3 Ways that your Job Interview can go seriously awry, and how to avoid them

Charissa Brammer, Head Editor, INALJ Maine

3 Ways that your Job Interview can go seriously awry, and how to avoid them

charissabrammerLike most people, I feel really awkward in an interview situation. There is pretty much nothing in an interview situation that is designed to make people feel comfortable, but they do give the interviewers a good look at how the people they are interviewing act under pressure. As a person who has aced a few interviews, and made a fool of myself at others, I have developed a few strategies to deal with some of the problems I have faced, and I want to share them with you, in the hopes that someone can use them to turn potential interview foolery into an aced interview and a job offer.

Problem 1. Clothes that don’t fit, making you seem fidgety and, frankly, uncomfortable.

Like many people in the Western United States, I have very few fancy clothes. I have a closet full of cardigans, but if I have to dress up past business casual, I have to go get the clothes in the special closet in the spare room and, if they fail me, go to the store and buy another fancy outfit. This means that my interview clothes are always potentially ill-fitting, depending on how much exercise I have been doing at the time I need to interview. I had one interview a few years ago where my clothes were so ill-fitting that they were a distraction for me and, potentially, for my interviewer. I’m sure that some of my laid-back Western ladies can relate. Since finishing my MA and beginning my MLIS, I have found that a professional wardrobe is a requirement more and more often. In order to deal with this on a limited budget, I’ve come up with two solid strategies: cruising the sales in the business-ladies department at the store when I am out getting a pile of plain, v-neck tee shirts to replace the worn ones and making sure that I try on the fancy clothes that are exiled to the guest room every once in a while to gauge where I am in the fitting spectrum.

Problem 2. Finding yourself unable to come up with a question for the interviewer when prompted.

True story: When I was interviewing for my current job for the first time, when I was asked this question, my two questions were: Do you have a policy on tattoos? and Do you have a dress code? I mean, seriously, could I have come up with two questions that made me seem less like an up and coming, employable professional than those? I think that it was these two questions that led to me being passed over the first time and only being offered the job when the original hire decided to light out for greener pastures after two months. My solution to this problem was an easy one: just google lists of questions to ask your interviewer. There are hundreds of them out there, and even if 99% of them are cheesy, they are a sight better than basically telling your interviewer that your interview outfit is the only nice outfit that you own.

Problem 3. Over-answering interview questions.

I am almost certain that I am not the only person who, when seated across a conference room table from a panel of people, seems to lose complete control over my “stop talking” capability. If I don’t consciously control this impulse, I will just talk until I see their eyes glaze over and then try to think of a way to wrap it up in three sentences or less. This is a terrible strategy. If you do this, I would recommend that you take a moment to gather your thoughts, say your piece, and then leave a little silence at the end of your statement. If you, like me, tend to think and talk simultaneously, this will feel really weird, but it won’t seem weird to your interviewers as long as you are keeping the pauses a reasonable length. If I am consciously thinking about silences before and after my thoughts, I find that I come off more like the calm, reasonable professional that I strive to be and less like a babbling over-sharer.