7 Oft-Neglected Tips for Job Interview Success

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Job interviews are nerve-racking not only because they put you in front of a stranger who will ask you a bunch of tough questions but also because of their life-changing potential. Most people are uncomfortable answering deeply personal questions from someone they don’t know, and when that stranger has the power to alter the trajectory of your career, it’s hard not to let your nerves take over. 

At its core, a job interview is simply a conversation between two parties assessing each other for compatibility, yet the reality is that a successful job interview can have a profound impact on your life, which makes the situation even more stressful. You only have minutes to leave a positive, lasting impression on the interviewer—a better one than all the other well-qualified candidates—so you have to make this short time really count. However, there are ways to prepare, calm your nerves, and give yourself the best chance of impressing the person before you. 

It bears repeating how important it is to be early for your job interview, dress appropriately, be polite to everyone you interact with, listen closely to what the interviewer is saying, be honest, and, above all, be confident. You probably already know how critical it is to research the company to get a better sense of it as an organization and of its culture, which allows you to tailor your answers and even choose your attire for the interview. 

You’re also likely aware that you should prepare not only your answers to common interview questions but also some insightful questions of your own to ask the interviewer since that demonstrates engagement and interest in the position. You surely know that the best way to rehearse and prepare is to set up a mock interview with an expert, but what if you’re still nervous? 

Here’s a collection of tips that will help you deal with your anxiety and present yourself in the best possible light during your job interview.  

Before the interview

First of all, don’t feel bad about being jittery—it’s perfectly natural. Even people who’ve sat for numerous job interviews throughout their careers may feel nervous ahead of another big one. Fortunately, there are several ways you can alleviate your anxiety. Here are a few things you can do as soon as you’re invited to interview.  

1. Schedule the interview to your advantage

You may not always have the chance to do so, but if you can, schedule your job interview mid-morning and mid-week. Meeting someone at 10 a.m. on Tuesday isn’t the same as meeting them early on Monday or, worse, late on Friday. You want to have your interviewer’s full attention and feel good and energized, and while you obviously can’t predict how the interviewer’s week is going or what kind of mood they’ll be in, picking a time when things are more likely to be calm can increase your chances of having a smooth interview. Even small factors like this can impact your job prospects, so try to optimize the setting as much as you can.

If you are currently employed, it may also be wise to schedule your interview around your work schedule. This is particularly important if you’ve already had numerous interviews—there are only so many times you can ask for time off before your boss starts getting suspicious.  

2. Clean up your online presence 

We’ve all heard stories of people getting fired after something they did or said went viral in the worst possible way. Hopefully, there’s nothing on your social media that could get you canceled, but it doesn’t hurt to check what is visible to the public. This applies not only to your own profiles but also to any public posts or photos where your friends may have tagged you.

Consider if any of your posts could seem inappropriate or cast you in a negative light and whether you should hide or remove them. Explicit content about politics, religion, drugs, or sex can have a detrimental impact on an employer’s perception of you, so it’s best to keep those opinions private. Even when your posts don’t deal with controversial or divisive topics, if they tend to be angry, inflammatory, or otherwise objectionable, you may want to consider deleting or hiding them since companies care deeply about their employees’ attitudes.

3. Go to bed early

We all know the extent to which sleep can affect our performance and mood, so settle in for a quiet night and go to bed early to ensure you’re well-rested for your interview. Resist any urge to stay out late, don’t drink alcohol (being hungover at a job interview is not a good look), and practice good sleep hygiene—instead of binging on social media right up until you hit the hay, try reading, taking a relaxing bath, or doing some simple yoga stretches. 

You’ll want to get ample sleep so you wake up rested. Also, make sure you have enough time so you don’t have to rush in the morning. Treat yourself to a tasty, nutritious breakfast that will fuel you for the big day. Don’t oversleep—that groggy feeling is just as bad as the feeling of being totally sleep-deprived. 

On the day of the interview

Preparation isn’t just for the days before your interview—there are also various ways you can calm your nerves and increase your chances of success on the big day itself. Here are a few things to keep in mind. 

4. Groom and dress appropriately

Looking good isn’t just about your outfit (which you already picked out and tried on before the day of the interview, right?)—it’s also about grooming. Take a shower, do your hair, brush your teeth, and make sure you smell good. If you tend to sweat more when you’re nervous, take that into account and select clothes you won’t noticeably sweat through. If you don’t think deodorant will be enough, wear an undershirt. Opt for few or no accessories and natural-looking makeup (if you choose to wear any), and don’t forget to slip into clean, professional, and comfortable shoes. 

In general, you want to wear clothes that indicate your professionalism. Choose an outfit that’s confident but quiet, complementing you rather than overshadowing you. Importantly, make sure you’re comfortable in it—you won’t be able to do well in your interview if you’re constantly squirming or itching. You want to look clean, professional, and confident, projecting the image of someone who would make a great employee. 

5. Don’t forget to eat

We’re not suggesting you have a hearty meal right before your interview—that would prepare you for a nap, not an important meeting—but you definitely don’t want to show up with an empty stomach and risk feeling dizzy or hearing your stomach growl over your insightful answers. Besides, if you’re hungry during your interview, you’re likely to be thinking about your next meal rather than the questions you’re being asked, which will impact your ability to deliver clear, confident answers even if you’ve rehearsed them many times. 

Make sure to have a nutritious breakfast and lunch if your interview is scheduled for the afternoon—choose something that will make you feel good and energetic, nothing too greasy or heavy. Go easy on the coffee, and have a healthy snack or something light before your interview so eating is the last thing on your mind. Afterwards, check your teeth in the mirror and pop a breath mint if you can’t brush your teeth. 

6. Bring a few extras

You definitely don’t want to be lugging a huge bag on the day of your interview, but you should consider bringing a few things just in case. Hand sanitizer or wipes, an umbrella (if there’s a chance of rain), a small bottle of water, and a snack (if you’re prone to feeling peckish when you’re nervous) won’t take up too much space and could come in handy. 

Brainstorm whether there are any other small items that might prove useful to have—it’s better to take them and not need them than to need them and not have them. Avoid any creams that might make your hands greasy or sticky, and pack a small notepad and a pen if you prefer writing by hand, just in case you need to jot something down.  

7. Mute your phone

Interviewers understand you can’t predict when you’re going to receive a call, but a phone ringing in the middle of an interview feels unprofessional and will disrupt the flow. So, make sure your phone is on silent and turn off vibrations, too. Not only does it still produce a buzzing sound, but it will also distract you if you suddenly feel it vibrating against your leg.  However, we do suggest leaving your phone switched on just in case you need to access your contacts or calendar. 

Once you’re in the door (or in the virtual meeting), it’s up to you to paint an appealing picture of yourself and match your skills to the employer’s needs and expectations, but these tips can make a huge difference in how prepared and confident you feel, giving you a stronger chance to ace the interview. Remember to always be honest and polite, and don’t forget to send a follow-up letter thanking the interviewer for their time (don’t worry, we’ve got professionally crafted templates ready). Good luck! 

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