How To Ace A Job Interview: 7 Research-Backed Tips
Eric Barker | Barking up The Wrong Tree | 09.04.13
1. Be Similar To The Interviewer
“Be yourself” can actually be a problem. If you want to know how to ace a job interview it’s important to note that study after study shows the key to being liked and being more influential is similarity.
Research shows you can take advantage of this by researching the interviewer and coming across as similar to them: After carefully transcribing and analyzing her interviews and field notes from observations in the firm, Rivera determined that, by the time a candidate had made it through the relevant resume screenings and landed an interview, her evaluation was not necessarily based on “maximizing skill—finding the person who was absolutely best at the soft or the hard dimensions of the job,” as Rivera puts it. Rather, the most common mechanism by which a candidate was evaluated was her similarity to her interviewer.
No lies are necessary. Think attitude. Do they come across as aggressive and hard-charging or calm and passive? Do they come across as cultured or school of hard knocks?
2. Timing Matters
You might not have much control over this but make an effort to manipulate the timing to your advantage.
Research shows interviews go better when:
- They’re earlier in the day.
- The weather is good.
- And, when you’re not interviewed on the same day as your strongest competition.
3. Frame The Conversation
Research shows they’re the most important part of any job interview: By careful analysis, the researchers found that all of these factors influenced the final interview ratings, and that this was due to the way they shaped first impressions: after those first few minutes, there was little extra influence of these qualities across the rest of the interview.
Optimize first impressions from the outset by framing the conversation with a few well-rehearsed sentences regarding how you want to be perceived. This will end up being the structure the other person forms their memories around.
If you start out with a few well-rehearsed sentences about why you are the right person for the job, this first impression can help set the tone for your interview and for what is taken away from the meeting.
Persuasion expert Robert Cialdini, author of the classic book, Influence, slyly recommends asking them why they thought you might be good for the role. After people make positive public statements about you they will subconsciously feel the need to not contradict them.
4. Feel Powerful
People who felt powerful before going in to an interview performed better: Priming participants with feelings of power improves professional interview outcomes. In both studies, unaware judges significantly preferred the power-primed applicants.
As I’ve posted before, “fake it ’til you make it” works.
How can you make sure you feel powerful? Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy recommends doing a “power pose” in private before the interview: Preparatory power posing is taking a few minutes before walking into a stressful interaction or situation to open up, occupy more space, and make yourself big. Stand with your feet apart and your hands on your hips, or with your arms reaching up in a ‘V.’ Or sit with your legs in front of you, feet propped up on desk or a table, leaning back, with your hands on the back of your head, fingers interlaced, and elbows pointing out.
Try power poses in the elevator, a bathroom stall, the stairwell…wherever you can find two minutes of privacy. Does striking poses in the bathroom sound silly to you? Don’t laugh — it works:
As predicted, high power posers performed better and were more likely to be chosen for hire, and this relationship was mediated only by presentation quality, not speech quality. Power pose condition had no effect on body posture during the social evaluation, thus highlighting the relationship between preparatory nonverbal behavior and subsequent performance.
What type of people naturally know how to ace a job interview? Narcissists. Now you don’t want to be overbearing but better to toot your own horn than to have it go untooted: Narcissists scored much higher in simulated job interviews than non-narcissists, researchers found. They pointed to narcissists’ innate tendency to promote themselves, in part by engaging and speaking at length, which implied confidence and expertise even when they were held to account by expert interviewers.
5. Have A Strong Handshake
Your handshake matters a lot more than you might think. Experts at the University of Iowa analyzing interactions in job interviews declared handshakes “more important than agreeableness, conscientiousness, or emotional stability.”
And it’s correlated with getting an offer: Five trained raters independently evaluated the quality of the handshake for each participant. Quality of handshake was related to interviewer hiring recommendations.
6. Know The Right Questions To Ask
Many people struggle with that moment in most interviews where they ask “Do you have any questions for us?” This is not only a good time to get information but it’s a great time to impress them with an insightful question.
- Thinking back to people who have been in this position previously, what differentiated the ones who were good from the ones who were really great?
- How would you describe the culture of the company?
- What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?
The Dos and Don'ts of a good interview:
- 3 Magic Phrases Every Interviewer Wants to Hear
- 3 Steps for Answering "Why Do You Want This Job?"
- The Interview Technique You Should Be Using
- 5 Words to Avoid Saying During a Job Interview
- Job Interview Questions You Should Be Prepared to Answer