Interviewing: During the Interview (Part. 3)


Watch your body language

You know what I mean. No slouching, chewing gum, slumping back in your chair, sitting really far back in your chair, sitting on your hands….! And the list goes on.

Best position: Sit a bit forward in your chair, while still being relaxed, and lean forward.

Don’t cross your arms either. It’s an unconscious defensive gesture..

Pre-empt them

CAUTION: Use this tactic only if you feel comfortable doing this.

“What are you most hoping to find in the person you hire?”


“What would be my first priorities on the job?”

This way, you can start figuring out what your potential employer wants. Then you can finish the interview off with:

“Based on what we’ve talked about today, I feel good about the position. Do you have any concerns about my ability to do the job?”

And you can pre-empt them by figuring out what they are iffy on, and being able to counter their objections and leave them with a better impression.


Don’t go nuts with this smiling bit but at least seem approachable and friendly. People tell me all the time that sometimes he’s noticed that when I’m not smiling or if I’m thinking, I have the ability to look very serious and angry at something when I get quiet.

But the interviewer doesn’t know you. They don’t know what you’re REALLY like. So you have to fake it even if you don’t feel it. Make sure to genuinely smile (in your eyes) when you reach for their hand to shake it. Pretend like she’s an old family friend who’s just interviewing you for the formality’s sake and asking about your life (but don’t forget that you can’t slack off during this important time).

Have a firm handshake

Nothing irks me more than a bad handshake from both women and men.

For women, I find they do the limp fish a lot. They just hold their hand out there, no firm grip, no contact with the padding between the thumb and the forefinger, no solid double-pump. It feels like I’m shaking a piece of fish. Or they do it by only offering their fingertips *shudder*.

For men, I find they grip too hard. Gripping too hard hurts the other person’s hand, and sometimes they don’t know how strong they’re doing it because they’re nervous. Understandable, but try practicing your handshake on a friend and ask for feedback. If you feel silly doing that, try practicing on your own hand (kind of awkward, but…. hey you didn’t want to do my other suggestion :P)

The best handshake is:

Extend your right hand to meet the other person’s right hand.
Wrap your hand around the other person’s hand when your thumb joints come together.
Grasp the hand firmly and squeeze gently once.
Hold the handshake for 2 to 3 seconds.
Pump your hand up and down a few times to convey sincerity. (This gesture is optional.)

Other alternatives would be shaking their hand, but cupping your other hand over theirs. I don’t recommend this because it shows real affection and indicates you know them.

Stick to the vanilla handshake unless you know the person well….

Make eye contact

It’s a sign of confidence and interest. Nothing makes an interviewer more irritated (or a colleague for that matter) when someone is not looking you in the eye when they’re talking or vice versa.

I have this bad habit of looking up or looking down/away when I’m thinking, and I’ve been trying to break myself of it, and look at them in the eyes, but I just find it unnerving to constantly stare at them.

The best thing to do? When you’re listening, look at them dead on in the eyes, and nod once in a while (but actively listen too!). And when you’re talking and if you NEED to look up or look down to think silently, go ahead, but when you begin speaking or delivering your answer, look back at their face, and look into their eyes and answer.

Actively listen

By this, I mean when they say something, and there’s something in there that interests you even though it isn’t interview related, ask a question about it after but keep it short. As an interviewer, I don’t mind it because it shows that you were actively listening and you processed the info enough to ask a question on it. Just don’t drag the question out very long if it’s truly off on a tangent. Stay focused, just not rigidly so.

Don’t interrupt


Give them enough time to say what they want to say. I know you’re eager. I know you really want to give them the information, but PLEASE REFRAIN FROM INTERRUPTING.

Donald Trump hates it, and so do about 99% of people in the world.

It’s rude. Wait your turn.

Don’t talk too much and ramble on

Speak about a third of the time, and no more than half the time. Answer briefly, be focused, and if they want to know more, they’ll ask. Ms. M&P from My Money and Politics says:

One thing I’ve always heard is that you should keep your answers under 90 seconds (and that should be a long answer). If the interviewer wants to know more, they can ask. This has served me well in the past.

If you are asked to describe a project, do so… then check back in with a “Would you like me to describe my role on the project?” If they say “Go ahead”, you’ve gotten the green light to go on for another 90 seconds. Then stop, and check back again to see if they want to hear more about something else.

Don’t talk smack about your previous employers or colleagues

It’ll come back and bite you on the butt, I guarantee it. And if you don’t believe in that, all I have to say is karma. You don’t know who the interview knows, or is related to, because they could be a third-party contractor, not an actual employee of the company (very common these days), and it’s just not nice.

A possible answer to why you left? “The company fit was not right“. And leave it at that. If they want more information, just elaborate a bit on it, but keep it civil, diplomatic, and humble – don’t make it out like it was all their fault. Say something along the lines of ….when I was hired, I wasn’t clear on how the chain of command worked, and I made a mistake. Admitting that you make mistakes makes you seem more human and personable in the interviewer’s eyes, and it shows them that you DO know what your flaws are, and that you have learned from them.

Be honest

When answering, answer honestly. This is really important. When I say honest, I mean don’t tell an outright lie.

I had 15 direct reports to me.
…when you really meant I had 15 people hand off reports to me to finish editing and spellchecking because I was an assistant

You KNOW they will read that as “15 people reported to you”, not “15 people handed documents to you to check and proofread because they were too busy”.

An example of honesty with some tact thrown in is in my above example, where you diplomatically skirted around the issue of why you left and why the company fit wasn’t right, that isn’t lying.

To be honest, you don’t have to be brutally honest. You just have to not mention the parts that are really bad, or give your uncensored version of what happened.

Be specific

When you answer, use the following structure:
1. The situation/issue that you faced – pick the best one to illustrate your abilities, don’t go all schizo on them and pick a bunch of different situations.
2. How you dealt with it (the middle/meat of it)
3. The result of what happened because of your actions

This structure can be used for human behavioural problems such as resolving conflicts that arose in your team, and as a leader you stepped up to the plate and restored order.

Or this structure can be an example of what you did for the company as a whole: did you decrease costs by 15%? Increase revenues by 25%? Specific numbers are really helpful in this case. Just telling them that “costs went down” is so vague. Know your numbers and facts to back it up.

Match the interviewer’s style

If they’re business, talk business. If they’re more personable, feel free to ask (lightly) about their interests, and just match communication styles.

Don’t talk salary/benefits/time off

Wait until you’ve got an offer or the cat in the bag so to speak. If the interviewer wants to talk salary and benefits, ask if it can wait until a later interview date along the lines of “If possible, I’d like to wait to see if you think I’d be a good fit before discussing the job salary or benefits”.

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.