Job interviews are never as straightforward as they seem. You may have all the right qualifications and experience, but still the position goes to another candidate. Editor Jacquelyn Smith and reporter Shana Lebowitz of Business Insider UK have compiled a list of surprising things – some within your control, others less so – that may affect whether you land your next job. getAbstract recommends this practical guide to professionals trying to get an edge in their next interview and to employers looking to create a fair hiring process.
How you dress, whether you have piercings or tattoos, your weight, and how you speak can all affect people’s perceptions of you. For instance, in a CareerBuilder survey, 2,099 human resource professionals claimed blue and black are the most appropriate colors to wear when applying for work; orange, on the other hand, should be avoided. To prepare for your next job interview, familiarize yourself with the behaviors, contexts and unconscious perceptions that could cast you in a negative light, and aim to avoid them.
“Feeling powerful will make you more assertive, accept criticism more gracefully, present more captivating and enthusiastic speeches, and, overall, turn you into a high performer.”
Some factors that may affect an interview are out of your control. Research has shown that poor weather on the day of your meeting could affect your chances negatively. Conversely, it may count in your favor if it happens that you and your interviewer share a common background. If there are aspects that fall within your control, do your best to make choices that will place you in the most favorable light. For example, request a meeting on a Tuesday morning – the best time of the week, according to research – but always avoid meeting either directly before or after lunch.
“It’s called the similarity-attraction hypothesis: People simply gravitate toward those who are similar to them in some capacity.”
Your actions before an interview can also make a big difference. Don’t arrive too early, as it signals excessive eagerness. Consider your actions in the waiting area: Instead of just staring at your phone, engage in polite conversation with those around you. If a company driver picked you up, treat him or her with respect. Employers often ask receptionists about your behavior, and the answers these employees give – whether positive or negative – carry great weight.
“The best time frame to send a thank-you email is within 24 hours after your interview.” (Susquehanna University associate director of career development Whitney Purcell)
Within the interview itself, keep a few things in mind. To start the conversation well, offer a firm handshake and wait to sit until you are invited to do so. Turn down any offers of coffee; it just wastes the other person’s time. Once the meeting begins, do your best to display body language that shows confidence, openness and attentiveness. When in doubt, subtly mirroring your interviewer’s body language and perspective can help create a bond. Ask intelligent, well-researched questions about the company and the position you hope to secure. Send a thank-you note within 24 hours.
Jacquelyn Smith is the careers editor for Business Insider UK and the co-author of Find and Keep Your Dream Job: The Definitive Careers Guide from Forbes. Shana Lebowitz is a strategy reporter for Business Insider UK.