Brain Food: Business manners - At the job interview

Dress appropriately. The first 30 seconds are critical, so make sure your appearance fits the bill. A sharp suit and haircut will boost your confidence, and subtle details - natty accessories, shoes, umbrella - get you noticed.

Stay cool. Sweaty palms and nervous tics will not make you an attractive candidate. Look calm and collected, even if your heart is pounding. Smile.

Go prepared. Do your homework, and arrive rehearsed but not scripted.

Stay alert - you'll need to think on your feet - and be ready with an opinion on business news or current affairs. Coronation Street doesn't count.

Hold your tongue. It's easy to gabble when you're nervous, so keep yourself in check. Don't outstay your welcome by whittering on about your beermat collection or extreme mountaineering.

No flanneling. If you don't know the answer to a question, don't bluff. If you choose to lie, be careful. Having once collected the money for a leaving present doesn't make you finance director.

Judge your tone. Be serious but relaxed when answering. If challenged, don't be lured into an aggressive stand-off, but expect your mettle to be tested. Ask intelligent questions and don't be arrogant.

Plan your exit. It's important to leave on a positive note. Measured enthusiasm and confidence will take you far. Leave the room purposefully, even if your immediate aim is to order a stiff drink.

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