Interviewing Intangibles

By: David Ross

With On-Campus Interviews beginning next week, students are preparing to make sure they are ready. While it’s very common to consider what questions may be asked and the best ways to answer them, one often overlooked area of preparation involves intangibles. The little things…minor details…things we don’t usually pay attention to or realize. While intangibles may seem inherently trivial, pay close attention as recruiters do notice and consider them.

What are intangibles? Let’s consider a scenario. Imagine yourself at the interview site. You’re prepared, confident, and ready to go. You have arrived on site and are waiting to meet your interviewer(s). Almost immediately, your appearance will be noticed. Do you have a professional appearance? Do you appear eager and enthusiastic? Whatever the case may be, your initial appearance will leave an impression.

Upon introduction, it is customary to shake hands. Now while this may seem traditional and straightforward, your handshake may be a reflection of yourself to the recruiter. Weak or flimsy handshakes suggest a lack of confidence, while bone-crushing handshakes are an extreme to be avoided as well. Try to find a balance somewhere in between – a nice, firm handshake is a good sign.

Another intangible is eye contact. Good eye contact indicates level of interest – conversely, poor eye contact implies lack of interest or lack of confidence. Try your best to maintain eye contact throughout the process. Of course, avoid extremes – staring someone down for extended periods of time may make the person uneasy or uncomfortable.

Finally, consider small talk or chit-chat as an opportunity. Before you enter the interview room or before the actual interview starts, you may meet a company representative who speaks with you briefly. Use this time to try to build a rapport or break the ice. You want to set a positive tone and show some indication of your personality if possible. Engaging in a quick conversation before the more traditional part of the interview begins may help showcase your fit with employees at the organization.

While these intangibles should be considered, always be yourself. Be confident in who you are and your abilities – you have much to offer, so take advantage of your interview to tell your story while using intangibles to your advantage.

Author: David

David Ross is a Senior Associate Director of Career Services for Wharton undergraduates and occasional blogger for "Penn & Beyond."