You were clearly the most qualified candidate. When it came to the job search, you did everything by the book—polished up that resume, researched the company beforehand, asked insightful questions during the interview, and followed up with the team within 24 hours. But still your phone remained silent and inbox empty. It was radio silence all the way. Why didn’t you get the job?
The decision to hire a candidate is about more than just a professional qualification standard. It’s also about company culture, charisma, and other seemingly random things your career counselor didn’t teach you in college.
First impressions mean everything, and how you interview can make all the difference. You are judged from the moment you walk in the door—even if hiring managers aren’t willing to admit it. Often, it’s not what you say, but how you say it and what you’re doing when you’re speaking.
So, what are the small, yet substantial deal breakers that affect your ability to land a job? Here’s a list of 6 things you can fix right now and seal the deal in your next interview:
As much as people try, charisma cannot be faked. Companies hire people they like. People who could fit into the daily office grind and positively contribute to the culture. Remember to show your personality in the interview room. Never dull down just because you’re in a professional environment. Smile, laugh, and engage. It’ll show the hiring teams—and your future employees—that you’re someone they can work alongside in the future.
Your business attire is being scrutinized as well. Regardless of whether or not the company adheres to a casual dress code, you must show up to an interview dressed nicely. This means presenting yourself in a polished, wrinkle-free way. Know that droopy drawers and skin tight blouses will definitely work against you. Choose an appropriate interview wardrobe and don’t veer from it. (Research also proves that various shades of blue work in your favor here)
Be cognizant of the vibe you’re transmitting at all times. This begins the moment you drive on-site and interact with security, receptionists, other employees, etc. Are you coming off as approachable or just flat out intimidating? Furthermore, hiring managers want to know that you’re interested in the position wholeheartedly, so act like you want to be there. If you seem rushed, unsettled, or bored, your interviewer will think they’ve inconvenienced you and wasted your time by asking you to come in.
This one is pretty straight-forward—pun intended. Remember to sit straight up in your chair and avoid the urge to slouch or hunch like someone who couldn’t care less. Posture can influence your perceived vibe and etiquette, so treat this conversation as you would a formal Christmas dinner with your in-laws. This means keeping elbows off the table—and ladies, your legs crossed.
The best interviews run like a conversation between two people—i.e. the ‘you talk, I talk’ format. When they’re talking, actively listen instead of thinking about how you can best answer the next question or waiting to insert your super relevant accomplishment into the story. Know that experienced interviewers can judge listening skills by the questions you ask them. Did you ask something they answered 10 minutes ago? If nerves have you flustered and you missed what was just said, kindly ask them to repeat it so you fully understand their statements.
Sloppy clothes and unwashed hair can be off-putting to anyone, especially hiring managers. Those days of rolling out of bed to an 8 a.m. class after Thirsty Thursday is over. Pay close attention to your hygiene—do you, um, smell funny? Wear a subtle amount of perfume and put on deodorant. Comb your hair and brush your teeth. An overpowering aroma will definitely make you a memorable candidate … but not in the way you’d hoped.
Job seekers often think that their professional qualifications make or break their chances of being hired. However, the decision to choose you over other solid candidates is often swayed by the little things. Remember to control what you can and put your best foot forward—in every way—and you’ll find yourself perusing multiple offer letters in no time.
Have any interview tricks you want to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Lauren is the brains behind CaPABLE…and Beyond, founder of LaunchPoint Resume, Cerebral Palsy have-er, and constant chaser of the ‘good life’. Money and Career writer at The Cheat Sheet and occasional freelancer for career, money, and organizational development topics.
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