Best Way to Set a Relaxed Tone for the Interview as the Interviewee

Though it is primarily the interviewer’s responsibility to set a relaxed tone for the interview, the interviewee can help, as well. An inexperienced interviewer may be even more nervous than the interviewee.

At the end of an interview day on campus, one interviewee brought me a cup of coffee. That signaled to me that the interviewee understood my position as an interviewer, and might empathize with clients or coworkers. A friend told me of the interviewee who arrived for his last interview of the day with two cold beers in hand. Of course, this approach has its limits. My friend appreciated the beer, but the student did not receive an offer. Perhaps her mistake was trying to sell my friend the beer (only kidding).

Relaxed Interviewee Best Way to Set a Relaxed Tone for the Interview as the Interviewee

If an interviewer has not attended to your physical comforts and you feel uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to change your seat to avoid the sun, ask permission to take your jacket off, or request coffee or a soft drink. That will demonstrate self-assurance and assertiveness on your part. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t be afraid to take a break to go to the washroom. Most employers recognize this as a legitimate candidate need.

A smile and warm greeting from the interviewee may do as much to relax the interviewer as a smile from the interviewer will do to relax the interviewee. If you are interviewing in the company’s offices, recognize that in all probability your interview is interrupting some work the interviewer is in the midst of doing. That means the interviewer may need a short time to get into the flow of the interview.

Also, when you are in an interviewer’s office, it’s a good idea to observe what is around the office. Does the interviewer have interesting artwork? Does she have photographs that may reveal particular interests of hers? Are there plaques, trophies, or diplomas that may give you information about her? Any of these observations may be a way for you to establish rapport with the interviewer or to compliment the interviewer on something. (Beware of giving compliments, though, since they may easily come across as insincere or obsequious. Save them for when you are truly enthusiastic about whatever you are complimenting the interviewer about.)

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