We often hear of government officials or politicians making off-handed comments when they think the microphone is off or when no one is listening. Ever-present smartphone cameras, audio, and video monitoring capabilities are everywhere. Even in the privacy of our own homes, remote applications can turn on our laptop video cameras and record our activities. Like it or not, we are always “on stage” with our words and actions being capable of being captured and shared with others – forever.
During the interview process, it is important to assume that you are always on stage. From the moment you walk into a company’s facility until to leave, you should assume that someone is watching and making judgments about you. Even when walking down the hall to your next appointment, you are likely to pass someone - perhaps your boss’s boss - that will be making a quick assessment of you. Your facial expressions, your gate, and your other outward appearance and behavior will predispose people to make a quick judgment about you. As you begin to interact with those that have made their initial assessment, they are likely to continue to look for signs that reinforce their hastily drawn opinion.
Be confident, not cocky, smile, closely observe your surroundings, listen intently, and look others straight in the eye. Leave your watch and phone in the car. If someone gives you a business card, read it! Slightly overdress. Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know. If you make a mistake with a response or misspeak, quickly admit it, apologize, and correct it. Above all do not attempt to rationalize or defend an error – stop digging into the hole that you have created. People are remarkably forgiving if you give them a chance. Be human! Everyone that you will meet knows that the interview process is stressful, they will meet you more than half-way, but you need to start down the positive impression path even before the curtain rises and you are on stage.