Here’s How to Absolutely Crush Your Next Job Interview

Whether you’ve been looking for a new full-time job for months now or want to be one of the additional 570,000 seasonal workers who are hired during the holidays in an average year, it’s likely you can agree that the employment interview process can be a real drag. It’s nerve racking and often leaves you with more questions than answers — especially if you never hear back. But if you’ve got another interview scheduled on the calendar and are eager to nail it, there are a few tricks of the trade you’ll want to keep in mind.

Think About Color Psychology

By 2020, the number of global fashion consumers is expected to reach over 1.2 billion. But even if you consider yourself to be stylish, you might be wearing the wrong ensemble to your interviews. Sure, you probably know enough to dress modestly and to ensure your clothes are tailored properly. But did you know the color of your attire might be sending the wrong message?

According to a CareerBuilder survey of HR professionals and hiring managers, clothing colors actually matter quite a bit. Roughly 23% of interviewers recommend that candidates wear blue, as it suggests that individual is a team player. Around 15% said that wearing black can make a potential hire stand out for their leadership qualities, while 25% noted that orange clothing indicates a lack of professionalism. Wearing gray or white can make you seem logical or organized, respectively, while brown tells the interviewer that you’re dependable. Wearing a pop of red emphasize power, though it may not be the best choice in all situations. Think carefully about what you choose to wear, as color psychology could say something you don’t mean.

Be Friendly, Yet Assertive

In 2017, nearly 127.6 million U.S. adults visited a dentist. In other words, you shouldn’t be afraid to smile (though you shouldn’t have a constant grin) or to make eye contact leading up to and during your interview. One study found that those who make consistent eye contact are perceived to be more intelligent than those who don’t. Aim to be confident and expressive (e.g., don’t speak in monotone or at a decibel barely above a whisper), but don’t go overboard. Ask your friends to point out your nervous tics beforehand and work on reeling them in during interviews. You don’t necessarily have to be an extrovert to ace an interview, but you will need to become comfortable with selling your skills and making connections with others. Your resume isn’t going to speak for itself. It’s likely that the company already knows your qualifications are a good fit; the interview is to assess whether you’ll be right for their culture and whether your soft skills are a match.

Research the Role and the Company

Never take a “just wing it” approach to an interview. You’ll need to invest some time in learning about the company and about the specific role for which you’re interviewing. Doing the bare minimum doesn’t show the interviewer your dedication or your interest in the job. Rather, you’ll want to know enough to be able to have a meaningful discussion with the interviewer. Identify not only what the job requires but how your skill set can apply to what they’re looking for; even if you don’t have the exact type of experience they’ve listed in the job posting, making those connections and showcasing your abilities can set you apart. You’ll also need to gain a thorough understanding of the company — its previous achievements, its current goals, and how what you bring to the table can help them grow. If you can find out more about their team, all the better. Understanding industry trends will also be helpful when talking about the big picture and can impress an interviewer.

Ask the Right Questions

Certainly, an interviewer will likely have a number of questions for you during your meeting. But don’t underestimate the importance of the questions you might ask. An interviewer might close with the opportunity for you to get some clarification, but even if you think you have a thorough understanding of the role and the company, you can impress the hiring team with some insightful queries.

Asking an interviewer why they joined the company can be illuminating for you, as it might tell you whether they care about the mission or whether their motivations lie in salaries and benefits. Asking what the company’s most successful employees do differently can show you’re eager to succeed while finding out how the business actually defines “success.” Asking what management can expect for someone in this position to accomplish within the first two to three months can tell you a lot about their expectations and whether they’re in line with your own goals. You might even inquire as to what elements in your own background might give the interviewer pause over whether to hire you. This can provide you with some insight and the chance to address any objections they might have while you’re still in the interview. Asking about opportunities for advancement can show an interviewer that you’d be invested in staying at the company long-term while providing you with information about how you might further your career. Whatever you do, make sure to have at least a couple of questions prepared ahead of time. One of the worst things you can do is to refrain from taking the opportunity to ask for the sake of appearing agreeable or intelligent.

Avoid the Biggest Mistakes

Before heading into your interview, you’ll need to identify and avoid the most crucial mistakes. That means you should show up no more than 10 minutes prior to the start of your interview — and, of course, you should never show up late (even by a minute). Keep your cell phone on silent and tucked away for the entire time you’re in the building; even if you use it in the waiting room, it can reflect poorly on you and even mess with your focus. Obviously, you should be prepared, refrain from talking badly of prior employers, or disclose protected information about your family or religion. Unless it’s brought up, don’t ask about salary and benefits during the interview. Although you deserve to get paid what you’re worth, you should wait until you receive an offer to discuss these matters. It should go without saying that exhibiting a negative attitude, lying about your experience, or giving cliched answers to tough questions will all serve as strikes against you. Above all, be professional, courteous, and inquisitive without being cocky or overly forthcoming.

There’s no doubt that job interviews can be a real challenge, particularly when you’re first starting out in the professional world. But as long as you keep these tips in mind and practice to avoid the pitfalls, you’ll be one step closer to landing the job of your dreams.