Nerves Are Not Your Friend When Interviewing for a Job!

It’s hard enough looking for work without trying to remember all the advice you read, on all those job boards, from all those advisers. As you walk into the interview, you can’t help but wonder why the guy who just left had such a self-satisfied smile on his face? Did they offer him the job? Is this just a waste of time? Fortunately, after many years as an Information Technology consultant, I can filter and boil down all the expert advice I got into one memorable acronym/mantra — S.M.I.L.E.

I’ll explain what each letter stands for in a minute, but let me elaborate on the theory behind it first. You need to understand right off the bat that not every interviewer is trained to be a good interviewer. It might be that they’re covering at the last minute for the person you were supposed to meet. Maybe they’ve been taught to ask “gotcha” questions to eliminate the weak candidates. Whatever the reasons for their deficiencies, your job is to be the best person in the interview, so …

Smile (even on the phone)

Not only are you reinforcing the interview mantra here, but you’re reminding yourself to be your friendly self. One of the things the interviewer is looking for is someone who is a great fit for the team. People with attitudes cause problems and no one needs more problems. Sometimes the job you’re going for requires intensity and concentration, but a smile never hurts when it’s time to lighten the load a bit. Even a “hatchet person” has to have fun sometime.

Meaningful Eye Contact (just not on the phone)

The key here is the word “meaningful”. Some people are uncomfortable with eye contact and others do too much. Take your cue from the interviewer as to what “meaningful” should be for you. It’s not a staring contest but direct eye contact implies confidence and honesty. Coupled with that disarming smile and genuine warmth, you could be on your way to developing an advocate for you to join the team.


Asking legitimate questions about the job, or the working environment, or the team implies interest and attention to detail. Rather than simply assuming that you know what is expected, you take the time to ensure that your time will be spent correctly.


There is nothing like being a good listener (in order to ask good questions). In a sense, the interview is all about you but the job is all about what you can do to help the team! There wouldn’t be a job posting if the team didn’t need help, so listen to find out where they need that help and tailor your comments to fill those needs.


Job interviews can be many things: tense, terrible, mediocre, boring, gang-busters, or even enjoyable. Go for enjoyable and you’ll be more memorable!

So whaddya think? Can you remember S.M.I.L.E?