When young people prepare to enter professional environments for the first time, there is often a virtual avalanche of advice to consider. From where to apply, to how to present a resume, to what to wear to an interview, college graduates and other young professionals hear so many tips that it can be hard to keep everything straight without feeling immense pressure. One thing that helps some young people to relax is to consider things from the employer’s standpoint.
Most businesses go to great lengths in order to present themselves well, both to prospective clients and to potential employees. Some offices hire decorators to arrange things in the most aesthetically pleasing way possible; some invest in programs like ShareFile to improve the functions, capability, and appearance of online business; and of course, people in well-run business environments always seem to be dressed impeccably to make a good impression. When you consider all of these things, and that you’re not the only one focusing on making a good impression, it can be a bit easier to focus on presenting yourself well while staying relaxed.
With that in mind, here are 5 tips on casual ways to improve your image and persona during a professional interview.
1. Dress Well, But Comfortably
Usually, this tip is phrased a bit differently: “dress to impress,” or “dress professionally.” However, while it is important to present a polished and professional physical image, it is also important to maintain your comfort. Feeling constricted, overdressed, or out of your natural element can lead you to feel more nervous, which can be disastrous during an interview. Try to find a nice combination between appropriate professional attire and comfort – for women, that might mean opting for the dress instead of the suit, and for men it might mean shirt and tie, but no jacket. Your appearance is important, but your demeanor is more important, and you will act more naturally if you feel more comfortable.
2. Accessorize Professionally
If you want a simple way to enhance your outfit without taking away from your comfort, consider simple accessories that can make you seem mature and professional. This could be anything from wearing a nice watch or belt, to wearing tasteful jewelery or a class ring, or even simply having a pen on you in case the need arises. Interviewers like people who are prepared and punctual, and these sorts of accessories give you exactly that sort of image.
3. Act Happy To Be There
Getting away from image a bit, it is also important to act happy to be at your interview. Instead of focusing so much on your next answer, focus on what happens if the interview goes well. After all, you’re there trying to get a job that you presumably want – act happy about the possibility! Remembering that securing an interview is often the hardest part of the process is a great way to relax and show enthusiasm. This cannot be faked, and no perfect answer can substitute for enthusiasm and a bright, cheerful demeanor.
4. Forget About Their Questions
As alluded to previously, a great deal of interview tips revolve around how to structure the right answers to common questions. But instead of focusing on how to answer a question, you might feel more natural preparing to elaborate on your strong points. The questions will come, and they will often be different – and since there’s no way to predict them with certainty, anticipating them can make you nervous. Instead, know your own resume, background, and strengths, and know the company you’re interviewing with. The questions will give you opportunities to use this information. In short, focus on your answers – not trying to guess the questions.
5. Get Your Mind Off The Handshake
Finally, try to ignore one of the most popular tips out there – to give a firm handshake. Of course, the handshake is important, but focusing on it, or preparing for it, often results in making the real thing stiff, practiced, and awkward. Appearing comfortable is more important than showing off the strength in your hands.
This is a guest post by Scott Emory. Scott is a blogger and freelance writer who covers topics relating to career advice.