Getting Out of Interview-Robot Mode: Part One

Getting Out of Interview-Robot Mode: Part One

​Whether you’re confident and outgoing or shy and slightly reserved, interviews are hard. After all, in the span of a half hour to an hour, you’re supposed to demonstrate your aptitude for the job, cultural fit, and professionalism—while also testing whether you like the company and position.

Because it’s such a stressful experience, many people go into “robot mode.” They talk stiffly, respond stiffly, gesture stiffly—you get the point. Unfortunately, robot mode makes it much harder to create rapport with interviewer or show off your personality.

In part one of this guide, we’ll share three simple strategies for acting like, well, you during the interview!

1. Remember They’re on Your Side

Most of us think of interviews in oppositional terms: it’s us (the candidates) versus them (the interviewers). However, this idea couldn’t be farther from reality. Interviewers want candidates to succeed; after all, if you’re a good fit, that means they’re done with the expensive and time-consuming process of hiring!

So, before you walk into the room, remind yourself that the interviewer is sitting on the other side of the door, with crossed fingers, hoping you’ll do well. Keeping this in mind will settle your nerves and help you be yourself.

2. Ask Questions Throughout

If you save all your questions until the moment the interviewer asks, “Do you have anything I can answer?,” well, you’re definitely not the only one.

But if you’re striving for human interaction, don’t stick with this format. Imagine if you and a friend went out to dinner and he spent the first 50 minutes quizzing you, then the last 10 minutes answering your queries. It would be the most bizarre dinner ever, right?

For a more organic and relaxed vibe, weave your questions throughout the conversation.

Let’s say the hiring manager says, “Do you prefer working in teams or independently, and why?”

Give your complete answer: “Since I find the collaborative process enjoyable and inspiring, I like working in teams more. When I was consulting with XYZ Corp., in fact, I worked on a 15-person team…”

Then, after you’ve responded in full, say, “How much time do people on your team usually spend working together versus doing solo work?”

Using this technique will be way easier if you’ve prepared your questions in advance (or at the very least, figured out what you’re interested in knowing), so incorporate that step into your interview prep.

3. Smile!

Let’s go back to the dinner-with-a-friend example. If he barely smiled, you’d probably infer he didn’t want to be there.

The same principle applies to job interviews. To show enthusiasm and, more importantly, put the interviewer at ease, just smile!

In case you need even more motivation: employers cite a “failure to show sufficient enthusiasm” as one of the most common reasons they turn down applicants.

You don’t want your smile to look forced, so don’t consciously plan when you’re going to use it. Simply pretend that you’re speaking to a coworker or supervisor; if a smile feels right, then go for it.

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