There are books, magazines, articles, websites, e-books, mobile apps, pamplets, seminars, weekend retreats, YouTube videos, documentaries, comic strips, and (probably) puppet shows dedicated to preparing yourself for a job interview. These information sources tend to nitpick every little detail about your appearance and demeanor in order to give you the secret recipe to landing a job. (No pressure or anything.)
I once attended an excruciatingly boring talk about what to wear to interviews. The attendees were supposed to wear what they would at an interview while the speaker would tell these individual attendees why their ties were too short, their jackets too loose-fitting, or their heels too high. I went from simply being bored to actively disliking the speaker when she got into an argument with a friend of mine about gender normative attire. When we broke after over an hour for the half-way point intermission, I didn’t return.
I’m sure the speaker didn’t intend to come off as LGBT insensitive, but her comments still rubbed me the wrong way. After all, if a hiring manager doesn’t want to hire a woman because she is more comfortable in a suit than a skirt, does that woman really want to work for that company? Intentionally or not, as soon as the speaker started to hint that a person might want to mask a fundamental part of her self in an interview, I decided the talk was a waste of time.
When you boil it down to the basics, hiring managers are only interested in one thing: Can I see this person filling this position? All the little details — the way you talk, the way you dress, the way you shake hands — should reinforce this. Luckily, because this is the only thing most hiring managers care about, it’s the only thing you really need to care about too.
Your strategy at the interview comes down to a balance between being classy and being natural. Be yourself, but be the classiest version of yourself, as you’d be in that work environment. For attire, find out what the normal work attire is before the interview. Is it traditional business attire? Then it’s time to break out your suit. Is everyone in jeans and t-shirts? Then be the classiest look that could still theoretically be described as casual. Let’s call it the “Sunday Obama” look.
Don’t be afraid to make yourself comfortable. It’s surprisingly infectious and might make your hiring manager more comfortable with you too. I assure you, nobody giving an interview wants to be there anymore than you do. The moment your interviewer sees you as someone he or she could tolerate spending time with on a daily basis, you’ve already done a half the work.
At the end of the day, there’s no magic formula to a job interview. You could knock the interview out of the park and not get called back for a hundred reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with you. You could walk out with your confidence shattered and get a job offer the very next day. There’s some comfort to be found in that chaos. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t, but there’s never any reason to take it personally.
In short, worrying won’t get you anywhere. So why worry?