5 Details That Could Make or Break an Interview


The author of the book What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People shared a story of an intelligent police officer who lost his chance to join the FBI because of one careless answer. The interviewer asked him if he would like to grab a drink after the interview, and he said he needed to first ask his family. The interviewers thought it was a sign of dependence on his family. So worried that he would rely on approvals from supervisors to react in emergencies the interviewer turned down his application even though the officer is qualified.

This is just a case in point that something as minor as a thoughtless answer can be significant in an interview.

Here are five points you should take note of to make or break your interview:

1. Trick questions by the interviewer

Questions such as “Did it take long for you to come over today?”, “Is the distance between the office and your home too far for you?” may sound childlike, but they are more than just small talk. If you’ve researched the company when you apply, you should’ve known where the office is.

Besides, complaining to the hiring managers that the office is too far will not add value to your application. It may even be a warning to them, that you feel the office distance and the travel back and forth make you an unhappy staff. So before the interview and upon realizing that the office location is quite far from your address, ask yourself if you truly want to work there. If your answer is “yes”, then reassure the hiring manager that it is okay for you to travel and that distance is not a problem.

2. Showing tension during the interview.

If you have tiny habits, such as leg shaking, finger tapping, touching your hair, or even biting your nails then that would not help you in your interview. More so, these habits might be worsened when you are tensed during the interview.

When you seem uneasy, not only are you telling the interviewer how nervous you are, but it also shows how you will behave under stress like in a client meeting. They might have second thoughts about offering you a position because they don’t want someone representing their company to look restless in a professional setting. If you shake your legs constantly, place your hands on your thighs to control yourself. If you are always playing with your hair, try folding your hands and place them on the desk or your thigh.

3. Lack of eye contact

If you tend to avoid eye contact with the hiring manager or interviewers you may be a loner who is naturally shy and fearful. And looking around while you are in a conversation is not only rude but also tells the other party that you are not paying attention.

If you are struggling to maintain eye contact, try the “triangle technique.” You have to look at the person from their left eye to the right eye, then to their lips, and repeat the cycle. You should show respect and interest by looking at the other person, without you being embarrassed and looking at them straight in the eyes for minutes.

4. The not-so-simple handshake

The Australian government came out with two types of bad business handshake and that is what they call the “The Wrestler.” This is when you shake someone’s hand too hard to the extent that the other party feels as if you are wrestling with them. A study by the University of Manchester showed that when you have strong handshakes and you reach out firmly and with confidence, you are better at problem-solving. The other one is “The Dead Fish” handshake. This is when your handshake is so weak it feels as if you are not trying at all. If you are doing this type of handshake you are regarded as a weakling.

You might think that shaking hands is easy because you just reach out to somebody’s hand, shake them, and that’s it. However, it is a bit complicated than that. In Hong Kong, shaking hands is not as common as it is in the western business environment. But if you are applying for a position with MNC, go for that not-so-simple handshake. You only have to wait and see if the person is reaching out for a handshake before you do the same, and don’t forget to make eye contact with a smile.

5. Your interaction with the receptionist and low-level staff

Your interview starts even before you enter the room. You should not commit the mistake of being rude, snobbish, and disrespectful of the low-level staff, such as the cleaning personnel or receptionist. Besides, everyone in the office might be your future colleague the moment you are hired. If you cannot get along with them before you’re even hired, how can you convince the hiring manager that you will be able to work with, or even lead the team?


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