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by Vault Careers | October 02, 2018


angry face

In interviews, it's certainly important what you say, but it's also important how you say it. That is, you want to give clear, concise, relevant answers to your interviewers' questions, and you also want to maintain an even tone and congenial temperament while you give them.

That said, here are three interview tips that will help you stay calm, cool, and collected, and on your way to getting the job offer.

1. Don't be argumentative.

Imagine, for a moment, receiving that common interview question "Could you please discuss your greatest weakness?" and instead of answering the question you replied, "I don't know. What's your greatest weakness?" I think it's safe to say, if you did that, you'd be immediately disqualified from the pool of candidates in the running for the job.

The point is, don't ever take a defensive tone in interviews. Never be argumentative. From time to time, you'll receive some hard questions, and it could seem like interviewers are prodding your weak or vulnerable spots, but know that your interviewers are not out to get you; they're just trying to determine if you'd be a good fit for their firm, and if you have what it takes to fill the open position.

So, answer all questions (even the very difficult ones) calmly, and take your time if you have to, and also be polite. Never get on the wrong side of your interviewer. Never get combative. That will doom you.

2. Don't raise your voice.

It's okay if you're a loud talker, but you better know that you're a loud talker and know to try to keep your volume down when speaking. What it's not okay to do is raise your voice to get across a point, or to raise your voice to try to emphasize something in your candidacy. That's only going to come across as extremely off-putting and could raise some red flags about your personality.

When you're sitting in front of your interviewers, don't forget that they're imagining you in the part of the new employee (much like an audition for a part in a movie or play), and if you start raising your voice and speaking loudly for no reason, they'll imagine you doing the same on the job, and it's likely they'll immediately place you on their "no" list.

That said, it's okay to speak passionately when it's called for, but remember that job interviews are conversations. There's not much to get heated about and raise your voice for. So just keep an even tone and volume, and if you feel like you're getting a little lost, just follow your interviewers' lead. Speak in the same manner and tone that they are.

3. Don't lie.

One of the reasons people stress out so much about interviews is they think there are going to be tons of questions they don't know the answers to. That is, they worry themselves crazy about the possibility of "not knowing" or being "found out" as someone who's unqualified. And when people stress themselves out, they're proned to changing their tone to one that's unnatural. Maybe they act too forceful to overcompensate for something they think they don't have or aren't. Or maybe they act too meek, thinking they're unqualified or undeserving.

The fact is, if you're asked to be interviewed, then you're deemed to be qualified (on paper) for the job, and so your interview is held to see if you have a congenial temperament and you can handle yourself professionally when communicating with another person.

Ideally, you want to go into an interview thinking something like this: 'I have nothing to hide, I'll just answer honestly and truthfully, and if I don't know the answer to a question, then I'll do my best in that case to say that I don't know. Worse case scenario, the job's not right for me, and I'm not a right for the job. It's not the end of the world.'

Yes, this is easier said than done, but the point is it's going to be a lot worse for you down the line if you're caught in a lie, trying to answer a question you really don't know the answer to, or trying to manipulate the truth because you think it'll make you look better. Truth is, saying 'I don't know' (or whatever's called for in response to a tough question that you don't have a clear answer for) is not so bad, and it could even be used to your advantage. It shows that you're human, not perfect, and unafraid to be vulnerable. All of which well help, not hurt, your candidacy.

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