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There are many components to a job interview. The coronavirus pandemic has permanently changed how some companies are interviewing for jobs. Now, instead of showing up to the office, you have to interact with the hiring manager through a computer screen. And even though you're connecting virtually, there's still a lot to remember. First there's the obvious stuff: Have you done your research on the company? Are you polite to the interviewer and eager to join the staff? But there's also the less obvious stuff: Are you smiling too much? Do you seem engaged? Here is a list of seemingly trivial details that can affect your chances of landing the gig — and only some are within your control. 1. The time of your interview Tuesday at 10:30 am is the best time for you to schedule an interview, Glassdoor reported. Although their recommendations aren't (yet) backed by science, they follow common sense. People are shown to be most productive on Tuesdays and won't feel rushed by the time they meet you. It's also late enough in the day that your interviewer has had time to check their email, have a cup of coffee, and get ready. You also don't want to be someone's last meeting of the workday, according to a study in Psychology Today. There's a good chance the interviewer's attention might not solely be on you. They could be thinking about priorities that they have after work, such as dinner plans or kids' homework. Avoid interviewing pre- or post-lunch because your time with the interviewer could be cut short or you could be left waiting for a while. 2. The weather on the day of your interview University of Toronto researchers Donald Redelmeier and Simon D. Baxter found that medical school applicants fared worse if they interviewed on a rainy day compared to sunny-day interviewees. They said: "Overall, those interviewed on rainy days received about a 1% lower score than those interviewed on sunny days. This pattern was consistent for both senior interviewers and junior interviewers. We next used logistic regression to analyze subsequent admission decisions. The difference in scores was equivalent to about a 10% lower total mark on the Medical College Admission Test." The data included nearly 3,000 applicants over a six-year period. 3. How early you arrive You may think it'll look good if you arrive early — but if you're excessively early, you could be hurting your chances. "Of course arriving a few minutes early is a good idea, and is certainly better than arriving late — but don't show up a half hour before your interview," said Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job." "It can make you appear too anxious or put pressure on the interviewer. If you have extra time, gather your thoughts in your car or take a brief walk to get your energy up." For virtual interviews, just make sure you arrive on time. 4. Whether your rival also interviews on the same day Yes, it may be difficult to know when your rival (presuming you have one) is interviewing. But if you happen to know, schedule your interview on a different day. Research suggests that whether or not you're considered qualified for a position depends on who else is applying for the job. "People are averse to judging too many applicants high or low on a single day, which creates a bias against people who happen to show up on days with especially strong applicants," according to a study in the journal Psychological Science, which focuses on business school applicants only. However, this comparison only lasts for one day, which means that you are only compared to people who are interviewing on the same day as you — not the day before or after. 5. What you do while waiting in the lobby (or during the interview) "Drinking coffee, eating, or talking on your cell is not the first impression you want to make with the hiring manager — or the receptionist," Taylor said. "You don't know exactly when the interviewer will show up, so be at the ready." She suggests keeping one hand free so that you can quickly shake hands without awkwardly placing all your personal items on a chair or on the floor. "You want to appear organized and attentive." "Also, as you wait, either make conversation with the receptionist (if he or she is available to talk), review notes from your notebook, or review any company materials for guests. Maintain a pleasant smile and upbeat demeanor." The same advice applies for virtual interviews. Try to avoid chugging your coffee or snacking during a call unless it is absolutely necessary. 6. Behaving like a jerk Always treat others the way you want to be treated. Rachel Bitte, the former chief people officer at the recruiting-software company Jobvite and a former recruiter for Apple and Intuit, said she always pays attention to how a candidate treats others, for example, waitstaff. Bitte described an incident from her tenure as an HR professional at Intuit. After a stellar phone interview with one candidate, she arranged to meet the person for a second-round interview over breakfast. But the candidate's rude behavior at the restaurant was an immediate red flag. 7. Whether you're a little narcissistic A study in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology suggests that narcissists score much higher than others in job interviews, and it's because they're comfortable with self-promoting. Since narcissists typically think they're fantastic, the interviewer may think so, too. 8. The color of your clothing According to 2,099 hiring managers and human resource professionals who participated in a CareerBuilder survey, blue and black are the best colors to wear to a job interview. Orange is the worst. Conservative colors such as black, blue, gray, and brown seem to be the safest bet when you're meeting someone for the first time in a professional setting. Colors that signal creativity, like orange, may be too loud for an interview. Red is perceived as the most powerful color, but consider whether you want to outshine your interviewer. This, of course, depends on what role you're interviewing for and the culture of the company. Unlike most men, women tend to wear more colorful clothing, making our judgments both of color and interview candidates gender-biased. 9. Whether you glance at your watch or cell phone As benign as this might seem, people notice when you're peeking at your watch or phone, and you certainly don't want to convey that you're not engaged in the conversation, Taylor said. "Even having your cell phone in plain sight is disrespectful," she said. "You're not going to text or take calls, so turn it off and put it away. Make sure your hiring manager has your undivided attention." 10. Tailoring your answers based on the interviewer's age Different generations are most impressed by different values. By being aware of your interviewer's age, you can tailor your answers to what you think they're looking for, advise John B. Molidor, Ph.D., and Barbara Parus, the authors of "Crazy Good Interviewing." "With a little practice, you can home in on the values that each generation holds most dear. You can shape your answer using the language of their values," they write. According to the authors, these tactics don't always work, as every interviewer can have a different set of values, so it's important to come prepared for the position you're interviewing for, regardless of the interviewer. 11. The way you make eye contact in a panel interview Keep everyone's attention in a panel interview by making eye contact with different people at specific times during your response, Molidor and Parus said. "In a panel interview, always begin your response by making eye contact with the person who asked you the question. Then make random and soft eye contact with each of the other interviewers. As you finish up your response, return your eye contact to the person who asked you the question. Do not mow down the interviewers by going down the line making eye contact after the other. Soft random eye contact does the trick." 12. Your posture "When you're in the interview, your default should be sitting straight and keeping a pleasant smile on your face," Taylor said. Avoid slumping in your chair and remember to lean forward, showing interest in the interviewer. "Even if you feel the discussion is going south, maintain your poise, posture and inflection. That can sometimes help you turn things around." 13. What you do with your hands Molidor and Parus write:
- Showing your palms indicates sincerity.
- Holding your palms downward is a sign of dominance. Do not shake hands with your palms down.
- Pressing the fingertips of your hands together to form a church steeple is a display of confidence.
- Concealing your hands, as in putting them in your pockets, is a sign that you have something to hide.
- Finger tapping is a sign of impatience.
- Folding your arms across your chest is a very defensive position, indicating disappointment or disagreement.
- Overusing hand gestures to the point of distraction.
However, the science of body language can be rather subjective. The interviewer may not notice these small signs, even subconsciously, especially if they're focused on the words you're saying rather than your gestures. 14. The questions you ask Maybe you're capable of answering every question sent your way with flying colors. You also need to leave on a good note by asking smart, thoughtful questions at the end of the interview. Below are two questions from Vicky Oliver's book "301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions":
What are some of the problems your company faces right now? And what is your department doing to solve them? What type of employee tends to succeed here? What qualities are the most important for doing well and advancing at the firm?
- Where you live, grew up, or went to school If you spent your childhood in LA and your interviewer did, too, you may have a better chance of landing the job. It's clearly unfair (and out of your control), but your interviewer may not even be consciously aware that she's biased toward Californians. It's called the similarity-attraction hypothesis: People simply gravitate toward those who are similar to them in some capacity. There are a few potential explanations for this phenomenon. One is that people with a decent level of self-esteem are satisfied with their personalities, so when they see their qualities reflected in someone else, they like that person, too. Another idea is that humans have evolved to like people who look and act the way they do. At one point in human history, the safest bet was to only trust people in your small social group.
- How competent you seem Coming across as super-competent can in some cases hurt your success in an interview, because your interviewer might worry that you'll outperform them. And that's especially true in organizations with highly competitive cultures. However, some interviewers are gender-biased. In a study of applicants for science-related jobs, interviewers were more likely to hire a male candidate to perform a mathematical task, even if the female candidate was proven to perform equally well. Of course, you should still put your best foot forward in any job interview. If the company doesn't hire you because they feel threatened or they're biased, you might not want to work there anyway.
- The sound of your voice In the future, some companies may begin analyzing candidates' voices to determine if they'd be good fits, according to an NPR report. Essentially, an algorithm would determine whether your voice is engaging, calming, or trustworthy — which could be especially important in industries like hospitality and retail. Humans would have the final say on hiring.
- Whether you're smiling It's common sense that flashing a smile makes you look friendlier and more approachable. But research suggests that, for certain professions, smiling too much can undermine your success in a job interview. In one study, published in the Journal of Social Psychology, researchers asked college students to role-play job interviews. They found that students who played candidates for the position of newspaper reporter, manager, and research assistant were less likely to get the hypothetical job when they smiled — especially during the middle of the interviews.
- Your body language Experts say that when people like each other they mirror each other's body posture and movements. In a way, it looks like like the two people are "dancing." If you don't mirror your interviewer's body language, it might seem like you're not interested in what they're saying or even that you're lying. Obviously, you don't need to go to extremes here — like scratching your nose every time your interviewer does. But if they're leaning forward in their chair or sitting with their legs crossed, you can subtly mimic these behaviors.
- How sweaty you are Offering a clammy palm to shake the hiring manager's hand is the greatest fear of many a job candidate. And for good reason: sweating suggests you're nervous and can undermine the image of cool confidence you're trying to project. One public relations recruiter tells US News that she recommends asking for a cold cup of water while you're waiting for your interview. That way, you'll lower your body temperature and stop some of the sweating. On the other hand, you can just accept that sweating and nervousness are normal in a stressful situation and hope your interviewer feels the same way.
- When you send your thank-you note We all know how important it is to follow up after a job interview with a thank-you note — but not everyone realizes that when they send it can be just as important. If you wait too long, the hiring manager may forget about you or assume you're not interested in the job. It may also make you seem like a slacker. "The best timeframe to send a thank you email is within 24 hours after your interview," Whitney Purcell, formerly the associate director of Career Development at Susquehanna University, told Business Insider. "It should be sent during business hours – no 3 am emails that make your schedule seem a little out of whack with the company's traditional hours." For more on how to craft the perfect thank-you note, check out this handy guide. Jacquelyn Smith, Ivan de Luce, and Vivian Giang contributed to a previous version of this article.SEE ALSO: POWER BROKERS OF TECH: HR chiefs reveal how to get hired at Microsoft, Facebook, Netflix, and other top companies Join the conversation about this story »
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