So, you’ve got a job interview coming up and you need some tips on how to nail it. The good news is, just by landing on this page today, you’re already a step ahead of the competition.
While other candidates will do downright ridiculous things, like ask where the nearest bar is or step away from the interview to ask their spouse if the salary is high enough, you’ll blow hiring managers away with your class and sophistication.
Ready to get started? Bring your A game with these 12 interview tips:
1. If you’re on time, you’re late.
Nothing shows incompetence like the inability to show up to your job interview on time.
“My alarm didn’t go off” and “traffic was crazy” are not explanations—they’re excuses.
The last thing you want to do is start your job interview with a lame excuse. Instead, double the amount of estimated traffic you might encounter and set multiple alarms so you don’t accidentally hit snooze and fall back asleep.
2. Stalk your interviewer.
Okay, stalk is a strong word.
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What I really mean is you should research the person you’ll be interviewing with to find things in common that can spark conversation and connection. Things like where they went to college, their favorite football team, or a vacation spot they’ve been to are great topics to casually bring up that will build some common ground.
What I don’t mean is to find out how many kids they have, what school their kids go to, or where their spouse works—that’s weird. Don’t bring up that information even if you do find it easily on social media.
If you come across like you’re a candidate for the CIA, or like you’re going to show up on their doorstep if you don’t get the job, you’ve gone too far.
3. Ask grandma to review your social media accounts.
Okay, let’s get real for a second. I can’t believe I have to say this, but I feel like some of you may need to hear this: If you’ve posted dumb stuff on your social media accounts—you know, stuff your grandmother might have a mild heart attack over—first, go erase any and all of it.
Second, stop doing and posting dumb stuff! It doesn’t matter how well you’re able to clean up your accounts—if you get this job and continue doing and posting dumb stuff, it’ll only be a matter of time before you get the boot.
4. Watch what you eat.
There are two parts to this tip:
- First, make sure you eat a good meal before your interview. You don’t want your stomach growling from hunger pain while you’re trying to convince your future manager that you deserve a higher salary. No thank you.
- Second, choose what you eat wisely. For example, it’s probably not a good idea to chow down on a large burrito with extra black beans. The last thing you want is a humiliating digestive distraction in the middle of the interview.
5. Bring a copy of your resumé or portfolio.
If the interviewer forgot to print your resumé or doesn’t remember the type of work in your portfolio, having an extra copy on hand will show them that you’re always prepared.
Besides, you created the perfect resumé, so of course you want to show it off as much as possible!
6. Don’t lie or overshare.
Whether they ask about your salary, job responsibilities, or experience, always tell the truth. The majority of hiring or human resource managers (66%) say catching a candidate lying about something is an instant deal breaker.1 Why risk that?
Along with not lying, don’t overshare.
Let’s say your interviewer asks you about your last place of employment. Our tendency is to give them every single detail. Instead of giving them a brief answer about your responsibilities at your last job, you tell them about the difficult people on your team and the long hours you were expected to work. When you do that, you create questions that don’t need to be created.
Instead, answer the question specifically and let the interviewer ask follow-up questions if they’re needed.
7. Be yourself.
Bad acting happens all the time in interviews. Don’t try to be an actor. Be authentic.
Your nerves are already off the charts, so this is not the time to try something outside your default mode.
If you try to be funny when you’re not really that funny, it’s going to be awkward and uncomfortable—so, in this case, stay in your lane. If you end up getting the job, they’ll figure you out pretty quickly, so just be yourself from the get-go.
8. Check your nonverbal cues.
If you don’t think your body language matters in a job interview, you’re wrong.
Nonverbal cues send powerful messages. They can portray confidence and display interest and engagement. Here are the most important cues to be mindful of during your job interview:
Make eye contact. Looking someone in the eye makes you look confident—regardless of how you feel on the inside. Even if it feels uncomfortable, keep the eye contact consistent. I promise you, it’ll be far more uncomfortable for the interviewer if you stare at the ground while they’re speaking to you.
Smile. Who doesn’t want to hire someone who is friendly and approachable? That’s how you come across when you smile a lot. On top of that, smiling lowers your stress levels.2 Just make sure there’s nothing in your teeth before you walk in!
Sit up, lean in, and nod your head. This posture and these nonverbal cues communicate that you’re engaged, interested and listening closely to what the interviewer is saying. That’s the type of person most organizations could only wish to hire!
Take notes. Bring a pen and notebook to your interview so you can write down important things the interviewer says. This will communicate that you’re teachable and interested in what they have to say.
Pro tip: If you have a notebook, you can also use it to write down your prepared questions so you don’t forget what they are when it’s time to ask. If you’re not sure what to ask the interviewer, check out my interview guide. It has a list of the top questions that will impress any hiring manager.
9. Dress to impress.
This tip is really important to me.
Before the interview, take the time to find out what the dress code is at the organization you’re applying to. The goal is to not be underdressed or overdressed, but to fit in with the culture. You don’t want to show up in a three-piece suit if everyone at the office wears shorts and t-shirts every day! When in doubt, smart casual is the way to go.
Finally, whatever type of clothes you end up wearing, make sure they’re ironed, clean and fit well.
10. Don’t ask them to show you the money.
You know that scene in You, Me and Dupree when Owen Wilson asks the hiring manager if they take off work on Columbus Day? Yeah, don’t be that guy.
When you ask about money, paid time off, or holidays too soon, it’s a huge turnoff. That communicates to the interviewer what’s really important to you—not working.
These topics should only come up once the job offer has been made.
11. Leave your helicopter parents at home.
I can’t believe I’m even talking about this right now—but please, for heaven’s sake, leave your mom and dad out of anything to do with your job interview.
They shouldn’t be submitting applications for you, showing up at the office to get an update on your interview, calling employers who turn you down, and—for the love of all that is good—they should never, ever, under any circumstances, show up to a job interview with you. Never. Ever.
Did I make myself clear?
12. Leave the pickup lines at the bar (or better yet, to yourself).
Our executive director of human resources once received a rock in the mail with a note that said, “I’m a rock-solid candidate.”
Yes, it’s crucial to stand out from all the other applicants, but that doesn’t call for cheesy or over-the-top gestures.
If The Bachelor, American Idol and Shark Tank have taught us anything, it’s that America doesn’t like people who try too hard. It makes us cringe. So, leave the tears, cheesy pickup lines, and over-the-top gestures somewhere else.
Take these 12 tips to your next job interview and you’ll be one step closer to living the dream!
For more tips and strategies on winning the interview, download my interview guide for a step-by-step handbook on how to stand out in the hiring process.
Remember, the more you prepare, the more confident you’ll be. You’ve got this!
About Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman is the bestselling author of The Proximity Principle and national radio host of The Ken Coleman Show.
Pulling from his own personal struggles, missed opportunities and career successes, Coleman helps people discover what they were born to do and provides practical steps to make their dream job a reality.
Listen to The Ken Coleman Show on SiriusXM, your local radio station, or wherever you listen to podcasts—and connect with Ken at kencoleman.com.