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Secret job interview rule: Always say yes to a glass of water

Did you know accepting a glass of water can make a big difference? Image: Getty

Handshakes need to be firm but not crushing; smiles need to be friendly but genuine; and you want to make eye contact, but you don’t want to frighten them – remember to blink.

There’s a lot to remember in job interviews before you even get to answering questions.

And according to Indeed’s head of career insights, Jay Munro, there’s one more thing you need to remember that can help you seal the deal.

“If you're offered a glass of water, always say yes,” he told Yahoo Finance.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not thirsty – just say yes.

“You never know, when you're anxious you can develop dry mouth or throat and then it's hard to talk,” he said.

“Or if you need that pause after being asked a question, it gives you something to do in that break, to pick that glass up and have a sip of water and it doesn't seem odd or out of character.”

Additionally, taking the glass of water isn’t just about putting you at ease – it also makes your potential employer or interviewer more comfortable in the moments leading up to the chat.

“They know what they're doing and it gives you a few moments to relax and breathe,” Munro added.

Dave Kerpen, author of The Art of People: 11 Simple People Skills That Will Get You Everything You Want, agrees.

In a piece for US jobs website, Monster, Kerpen said he learnt that lesson after rejecting a glass of water before a meeting.

“It was hot in that room, I realised. I was nervous about the meeting, too, as it was a big pitch. Nervousness plus the warmth of the room led to some sweat, and I wanted that glass of water more than ever,” Kerpen said.

“As anyone who’s ever been in sales or has had a serious job interview knows, once you start sweating, it’s simply a bad, bad situation.”

Kerpen went on to conduct a personal experiment: over his next 20 meetings he switched between accepting the water and saying ‘no thanks’.

Accepting that coffee can make a big difference to nerves. Image: Getty

The meetings where he accepted the water, coffee or juice went far better than the others as it put him at ease and let him prepare.

And it just meant there were no awkward moments.

“Think about when you have people over to your home. I’m sure you offer them water or a drink or a snack, and typically they take it. When they don’t, it throws you off: ‘Why won’t this person take my drink or snack?’ you think. ‘Am I a terrible host? What’s the deal?’

“Your mind may wander, and suddenly you’re distracted and maybe even annoyed at your guest for putting you in that situation,” Kerpen said.

“When the tables are turned and you’re offered a drink at the start of a meeting or interview, take it.”

In the interviewer’s position, the candidate accepting the water at the very least makes them feel like a good host, and sets them up to read the interview in a positive way.

“Remember, being liked is all about making people feel good, and your accepting a drink allows the other person to feel good,” Kerpen said.

But it’s also important to remember that while you can ask for water if they offer coffee and you don’t drink coffee, if they don’t offer you anything, it’s better not to ask.

Asking for water if it hasn’t been offered first has the reverse effect – it can actually make the interviewer feel like a bad host.

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