Interviews can turn into an awkward experience for any job seeker. They can be difficult to get through, impersonal, and make you feel stressed. At times, it can even feel like a bad date or a painful trip to the dentist.
You may feel out of your element. The interviewer may seem like he’s speaking gibberish. You may not understand what your next move should be. The hiring manager could be a jerk or show no emotion at all. Nerves can make it hard to speak.
Just the thought can make anyone cringe.
Even worse is the fact that those situations can prevent you from proving why you are the right fit for the job. However, there are some common ways to avoid those awkward interview moments in order to come out on top. Here are a few to note:
Do your homework beforehand
Before any type of interview, it’s important for you to do your research so you aren’t stumped by certain questions from the interviewer. For example, do you know who the CEO of the company is? What are some recent news events to note? What makes the organization better than its competitors? And most importantly, why do you want to work there?
Ample research helps you put some substance behind your responses. You’re able to position yourself as a candidate who has done your homework and understands what’s needed to do the job well. This combination can decrease the awkward factor since you’ll feel more confident.
Elaborate on your responses
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as an interview “conversation stopper.” Most of the time, it’s because the candidate is not being thorough enough or they are giving one-word responses.
An interview is not the time for yes or no answers. It’s the time to elaborate on your achievements, show through examples what you can contribute to the organization, and essentially be a salesman for yourself.
For instance: If the interviewer asks if you admire the company, don’t just say “yes.” Instead, elaborate with specific reasons. Say why you follow the company, perhaps by referring to recent events or organizational practices which impress you. Help the interviewer to understand why you want the job and to see your passion.
Know when a question is off-limits
Did you know there are certain questions that are off-limits for employers? These include your religious or political affiliation, your marital status, questions in regards to your gender, and any debt you may have, among others.
When you’re asked these sorts of questions you may feel very uncomfortable, but may also feel obligated to respond. Remember, if it’s not legal, you don’t need to answer.
If you do face such an off-limits question, counter it with alternative answers. According to Forbes, if the potential employer asks whether you’re thinking about starting a family soon, you can steer the conversation towards company career paths or your commitment to professional growth. By doing so, you put the focus back where it belongs and avoid providing information that is too personal.
You may come across your fair share of awkward interview situations. Just remember to always do your homework, elaborate on your responses, and understand when a question is off-limits. In the end, you put yourself on the fast-track to nailing the interview, and of course, landing the job.
What do you think? What are some other ways to avoid awkward interview situations?
Alan Carniol is the Founder of Interview Success Formula, a program that helps job seekers to deliver powerful answers that prove why they are the right person for the job. Follow Alan and Interview Success Formula on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.