What are you thinking about during a job interview?

It seems like a simple, harmless question, but in reality it’s an extremely important one. That’s because if you’re thinking about the wrong things, it could cost you a job that you really want. In order to keep yourself on task and give yourself the best chance you can of landing the job, keep these three aspects of the interview in mind:

#1 – The ultimate object of your first face-to-face interview with a company is to move the interview process to the next level or to get a job offer. During the interview, you shouldn’t be thinking about whether or not you would fit in with the company or even whether or not you want the job. That’s a decision for later, when you’re not sitting in front of the hiring authority. If you distract yourself with thoughts like these, you won’t be able to accomplish #2 on this list.

#2 – You should always present yourself in the best possible light. In order to do this, you must be able to effectively convey to the hiring authority evidence of your skills, talents, and accomplishments. And this goes well beyond what that person can read on your resume. It includes appearance, interpersonal communication, your answers to their questions, etc. Your full attention and focus should be on what is going on during the interview right now. Don’t get ahead of yourself and start thinking about anything outside of the interview. Even if you hear something that you don’t like or that is potentially discouraging, file it away for future consideration. Don’t dwell on it now, as it could disrupt your concentration and dampen your enthusiasm, thereby turning off the hiring authority. There’s a chance you may have misunderstood, anyway. How upset would you be if your dream job got away because of a simple misunderstanding?

#3 – The interview is a two-way street. You should be interviewing the company at the same time that you’re being interviewed. Ask questions that you believe are important. Find out as many facts as you can about the company in general and the position you’re interviewing for specifically. The more information you gather now, the better of a decision you can make later.

The interview process, of course, is a crucial part of finding a new job. That’s why it’s vitally important to go about it the right way, starting with a proper frame of mind. To be sure, there are plenty of tough decisions to be made when searching for a new job, but there’s a time and a place to make those decisions. The time for reflection is after the interview is over, not while the interview is occurring. If you follow this guideline, you’ll be mentally prepared to present yourself as well as you possibly can. And you’ll give yourself a much better chance of receiving an offer of employment.

(Read The Animal Science Monitor for informative, how-to articles regarding the current job market and the challenges of finding a new job in today’s economy.)