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Remember the subtle stuff but don’t forget the basics

It’s easy to obsess about the difficult interview questions. You know the sort of thing:  “What’s the most awkward situation you’ve ever dealt with?” (Tempting to answer, “I’m in it right now. How am I doing?”).
But don’t forget the simple rules of interviewing. It’s a form of kabuki theater (stylized, formal theatre to the uninitiated), and you shouldn’t really try to bend or, heaven forbid, break the rules. It’s probably the first time the potential employer will have met you and if you do anything too out-the-ordinary, they’re going to start worrying, “Whatever will they do/wear/say when they have the job and feel more at ease to be themselves?”
Here are some basic rules: Blog me back if you think I’ve missed out anything important. Or of course if you disagree…..
  • Do your research on the company. Asking a private equity company what their traders specialize in will not get you the job.
  • Always be positive about your boss, colleagues and the company you work/worked for. Of course, this may take some fancy footwork if your supervisor and colleagues had horns growing  out of their heads but emphasize how much you learned there.
  • If you’re alone in the room and the interviewer walks in, stand up and offer your hand for a firm but not paralyzing handshake.
  • Look the interviewer in the eye. You’re not dealing with tigers that’ll get spooked and attack you for staring too hard. Shifty-looking, staring at the floor, is not a good  interview look. If you’re a shy, prefer-computers-to-people expert, get over it! Practice with shopkeepers, neighbors and bus drivers.
  • Dress in Interview Uniform. That usually means a suit and tie for chaps, suit (skirt or trousers) for women. If you don’t have a suit, wear something conservative, neat, clean, ideally in dark colors. Shirts and blouses should be neutral colors e.g.  white, light blue, ecru.  There are exceptions to this rule, e.g. in the fashion industry. If you have a question about a particular interview, blog us.