Tips for Keeping It Positive During a Job Interview

a businessman and woman conversing
••• Klaus Mellenthin / Getty Images

There are a number of reasons why you might be in a bad mood during an interview. Maybe you’re frustrated with your job search, or don’t really believe the job for which you’re interviewing is a great fit. Maybe you simply had a bad morning or you’re just feeling down because you’re afraid you won’t get the job. It can be difficult to stay positive for your job interview.

It’s okay to be in a bad mood, but no matter how negative you are feeling on the day of your interview, it is important not to let it show. A positive, friendly attitude goes a long way in impressing an employer.

Employers want to hire people that appear upbeat and likely to get along with their bosses, coworkers, and clients. Even if you are well qualified for a position, a negative attitude can hurt your chances of getting the job. Here are tips for conveying a positive attitude during an interview – even if you’re not actually feeling that positive.

How to Keep It Positive During a Job Interview

  • Dress the Part: When you look good, you feel good. Keep this in mind when selecting your interview outfit. Take the time to iron your shirt and slacks, polish your shoes, get your hair cut – whatever will make you feel confident walking into the interview. Knowing you look your best may improve how you feel. Be sure to dress correctly for the interview – business attire is best.
  • Think Positive: If you go into an interview thinking that you won’t get the job, or that you’ll get hired and be miserable, it will be hard for you to convince the employer otherwise. Therefore, before you walk into the employer’s office, take a few minutes to remember a time when you were successful – whether it was a time when you got a job you wanted, successfully ran a volunteer event, or simply played a great round of golf. Walking into the interview with a positive image of yourself will help you to convey a confident attitude to the employer. Hopefully, once you are involved in a conversation with your interviewer, you’ll hit your stride and answer the questions with confidence.
  • Focus on Posture: Posture is an important nonverbal form of communication that conveys how you feel about yourself. If you slouch, avoid eye contact or turn your body away from the interviewer, you may come across as apathetic or lacking in confidence. Instead, stand up straight (or sit straight) with your shoulders back, and look the employer in the eye. This posture will make you appear confident even before you say a word.
  • Be an Active Listener: If you’re feeling negative during an interview, you might become so bogged down in negative thoughts that you struggle to focus. Practice active listening to make sure you stay focused on the interviewer and understand what she is saying. Look the interviewer in the eye while she is speaking, ask clarifying questions, and rephrase what she says to ensure understanding (“So, what you’re saying is…”). Active listening demonstrates that you are engaged and interested in the job.
  • Convey a Can-Do Attitude: Even If you feel like you are not a perfect fit for a job, you do not want to emphasize that during the interview. Before the interview, draw up a list of your qualities and experiences that relate to the job requirements as stated in the job listing. This way, if the interviewer asks why you’re a good fit for the job, you have a number of reasons and examples handy. Even if the interviewer asks you if you have experience with a task of which you know nothing, admit your lack of experience, but emphasize your interest and enthusiasm in learning something new. While having the skills necessary for a job is important, a positive, can-do attitude goes a long way.
  • Smile: Smiling, even when you’re not feeling happy, can actually brighten your mood. So even if you are feeling disheartened about your job search, walk into and out of the office with a smile. It will put both you and your interviewer in a good mood.
  • Don’t Overdo It: Of course, being aggressively friendly can also be off-putting for an interviewer. The interviewer wants to see that you are a real person – and real people do not smile all of the time. If you use this advice in moderation, you will come across as positive and confident, without being overwhelming. Pretending to be in a good mood might be a little easier if you’re well prepared for your interview. Take some time to research the company so you’ll have a few questions to ask your interviewer.