Psychological tricks to help you ace job interviews

Psychological tricks to help you ace job interviews

A great career is usually built on great interview-giving skills. Professionals who ace job interviews are capable of presenting their true potential to prospective employers resulting in better career opportunities. While offering prompt and correct answers to questions during an interview is a must, you will be surprised to learn about the impact non-verbal messages can have on the interviewer. Today, I am going to share a few psychological tricks to help you ace job interviews.

Before we begin, allow me to ask you a question.

Have you heard about the 7-38-55 ‘formula’ of communication?

Way back in 1967, psychology experts Albert Mehrabian and Susan R Ferris conducted research about the importance of verbal and non-verbal messages in our communications. According to them, there are three factors which account differently for our liking for a person who communicates with us. The verbal message (spoken words) account for 7%, the tone of voice accounts for 38%, and body language accounts for 55% of the liking. Remember this study was conducted in 1967. Over the years of working as an HR Manager and subsequently a Career Coach, I have realized that non-verbal messages should not be ignored if you want to make an impression on the person you are communicating with. And in an interview, that is the sole objective.

Here are some tips to help you ace job interviews:

Tip #1. Choose the day and time of your interview wisely

Unless the interview slots are pre-determined, the hiring manager usually calls or emails prospective candidates asking them for a comfortable time to schedule an interview. Instead of thinking about the travel time or other commitments, consider these points before making the appointment:

  • Don’t schedule an early morning interview
  • Don’t schedule a late evening interview
  • Avoid interviews just before or after lunch hours

The idea is simple. You need to find the day and time when the interviewer can pay attention to what you are saying. Depending on your industry space, the ideal time for an interview can be different. However, make sure that you find the time best suited to the interviewer.

Tip #2. Choose your attire wisely

Of course, formal attire is a must (unless your industry space follows a casual dress code). Remember, a well-dressed candidate certainly makes a good first impression on most interviewers. However, most people are not aware that the choice of colors can contribute to your success in an interview. A Career Builder survey of around 2,000 hiring managers and HR professionals revealed Blue and Black as the most preferred color to wear for a job interview. Orange, on the other hand, was associated with someone who is unprofessional. Here is a quick list of colors and their associated attributes:

  • Black – Leadership
  • Blue – Team Player
  • Gray – Logical/Analytical
  • White – Organized
  • Brown – Dependable
  • Red – Power
  • Green, Yellow, Orange or Purple – Creative

Tip #3. Consider the age of the interviewer before answering

In the book Crazy Good Interviewing, authors John B. Molidor, Ph.D., and Barbara Parus stress the importance of modifying your response in a job interview based on the generation of the interviewer. Here is what they say:

Age Range Generation Tip
20-30 years Gen Y Try to carry some visual samples of your work.Highlight your multi-tasking abilities.
30-50 years Gen X Highlight your creativity.Talk about successfully managing a work/life balance.
50-70 years Baby Boomers Emphasize on the fact that you are a hard worker.Acknowledge their achievements wherever possible.
70+ years Silent Focus on being loyal and committed in your previous assignments. Highlight the fact that you are trustworthy.


Tip #4. Body Language

This is a huge topic. However, I will try to list down some things that you must keep in mind to ace job interviews:

  • Make eye contact: The last time I asked someone to do that, I got a blank stare! Try to hold eye contact with the interviewer for a couple of seconds at a time. But, do not stare.
  • Posture: While standing, keep a straight back and lean forward a little while shaking hands. While sitting (in the reception area or across the interviewer), sit up straight and lean forward a little when the interviewer asks you a question.
  • Palms: Don’t clench your fists or wave your palms around excessively. If you keeping your palms on the table keep them open – sideways. Touching your fingertips together usually suggests authority – use it moderately.
  • Smile: You are not a robot. If the interviewer quotes a funny incident – smile. It shows that you are in touch with your emotions and are paying attention to what he is saying.

Remember, right from the time you walk into the reception till you leave the premises, keep your head high, body language confident and personality pleasing.

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