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Right Down the Middle

A job interview can be a minefield. Watch where you step.

The consensus says that it’s the job interview where you have your best chance to shine, to set yourself apart from your competition. True enough.

Of course there is another side to that coin. That advice says to stay the middle ground and that extremes can trigger unpredictable responses. But isn’t that contradictory? Not really.

In this context wandering too far afield from the middle ground may make you memorable, but at the same time may not allow you to distinguish yourself. What do you want to be remembered for? It’s all about personal characteristics… and the Goldilocks effect.

With the possible exception of some sales positions, speaking too loudly during an interview may be disconcerting. Just as speaking too softly may make you appear non-assertive. The safe place to be is speaking neither too loudly or too softly. But, as Goldilocks said about the middle, “It’s just right.”

The same holds true for speaking too fast or too slow. It’s the extremes that the interviewer will take notice of.

What about your handshake? Not too hard as to be overbearing, but not too soft as to appear weak.

Most everyone agrees that eye contact is good, and it is. But too much eye contact – to the point of staring or seeming transfixed – can be unnerving. The same holds true for too little eye contact. If your gaze wanders around the room or you stare at the floor, the interviewer may end up with more questions about you than answers.

Above all else, being genuine is the best policy. You can never go wrong being yourself. And, in the end, Goldilocks carries the day. Not too hard. Not too soft. Not too hot. Not too cold. But, “just right.”


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