Psychology Tricks For Nailing Your Next Interview


A successful interview can land you that dream job and change the entire course of your future! That can be a lot of pressure. Although, it’s important to remember that interviewers are people just like you. That means that they’re susceptible to the same cognitive biases that affect the rest of us! To help you nail your next interview, we’ve summarized some of the top science-backed psychological tricks that you can use to make yourself more competent, likable, and ultimately the best candidate. Let’s take a look below!

1. Get the timing right (if you can).

If you have the ability to influence the timing of your interview, try to schedule it in the morning (10:30am is best), on a Tuesday. Research conducted by Glassdoor shows that this is the best time to do an interview. The reason for this is that the best time to interview is what’s best for the person interviewing you. Having your interview at 10:30am gives your interviewer time to get into the office, properly prepare for their day, and let their coffee kick in. By this time, they are generally more relaxed and present.

You should be mindful of the fact that your interviewer most likely has had a few, or has scheduled many interviews that same day. Research suggests that hiring managers often compare candidates who they’ve interviewed on the same day. To lower your level of competition, it’s ideal to interview on a day when the strongest candidates are not. If you happen to have any knowledge of who else is interviewing and when, use it to your advantage and try to interview directly after an unqualified candidate.

2. Leverage color in your outfit.

There is deep psychology behind color in outfits which you can use to your advantage! Using color choices appropriately can help you control the image you want to project to a hiring manager. Based on a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, interviewers recommended that a candidate wear blue (which suggests they are a team player), and 15% recommended black (which suggests leadership potential). On the other hand, 25% mentioned orange was the worst color to wear to an interview because it suggests a level of unprofessionalism.

Below are a few traits that other colors can indicate:

White: organized

Brown: dependable & trustworthy

Red: powerful

Gray: logical/analytical

Green, yellow, orange, or purple: creative

3. Control your body language.

Most candidates spend too much thinking about their answers to questions and fail to put enough focus into what their body language is saying. For example, your hand movements during an interview can say a lot about your character traits. Open palm hands generally convey sincerity, and pressing the fingertips of your hands together to form an angle can indicate confidence. On the other hand, fidgeting frequently can show nervousness and incompetence and concealing your hands can indicate that you have something to hide.

One great way to subconsciously build rapport with your interviewer is to mimic their body language. For example, if your interviewer is relaxed and leaned back, you should conduct yourself in the same way (and visa versa). This mimic of body language should almost feel like a dance if done right. However, make sure you are subtle about it so as not to alert the interviewer that you are copying their movements.

4. Tailor your responses to the hiring managers age.

Depending on the generation that your hiring manager falls into, they may be looking for certain things in a candidate.

In their book "Crazy Good Interviewing," John B. Molidor, Ph.D., and Barbara Parus write that you should conduct yourself a little differently based on which generation your interviewer belongs to. Here's their breakdown:

Generation Y interviewers (between 20 and 30): Bring along visual samples of your work and highlight your ability to multitask.

Generation X interviewers (between 30 and 50): Emphasize your creativity and mention how work/life balance contributes to your success.

Baby Boomer interviewers (between 50 and 70): Show that you work hard and demonstrate respect for what they've achieved.

Silent Generation interviewers (between 70 and 90): Mention your loyalty and commitment to previous jobs.

5. Build rapport.

Rapport is defined as a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well. Having rapport with someone means that they like you and the two of you are in sync with each other.

One great way to build rapport is to find something in common with your interviewer. This is backed by what’s called the “similarity-attraction hypothesis” in psychology which proposes that we tend to like people who share similar attitudes. So, if you see that your interviewer has some sports memorabilia hanging in their office, make a comment that shows you’re a fan (but be sincere). Doing this before the interview questions even start will help you become more favorable as a candidate and will set you up for a more friendly and personal interaction.

Another great way to build rapport is to give a sincere compliment to the interviewer and the company. Showing how genuinely excited you are to be in consideration for this opportunity will demonstrate the fact that you’re a great fit for the company and a team player. Remember, one of the top things that will be on your interviewers mind is “Do I want to work with this person 40+ hours per week?”

6. Show humble confidence.

When you’re in an interview you want to make sure that you are displaying high amount of confidence, while at the same time being humble. One way to do that is to say something like, “I love the work you’ve done on _____, it reminds my work on _________”

By being self confident and humble at the same time, you’ll come off as extremely like-able and someone who the interviewer would like to have on their team.

If confidence is something you struggle with try a power pose right before going into the interview building. This can be something like standing tall and expanding your arms wide. In a study conducted by Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, some students practiced two "high power" (expansive and open) poses for one minute each before giving a speech about their dream job, while others adopted "low power" (contractive and closed) poses. Results showed that students in the high-power group were rated as more confident and were more likely to be recommended for hypothetical jobs.

7. Showcase your success and potential

If you’ve spent long periods of time at other companies within several roles, there may be too much to talk about during the short course of an interview. Try to think of specific occasions where you took initiative to accomplish something noteworthy. Being prepared with 2-3 stories that show this and practicing sharing them out loud before the interview will help you be prepared when the opportunity comes up in your discussion.

At the same time, you also want to showcase your potential and what you believe you’ll be capable of in this new role. Research suggests you should actually focus more on what you could do in the future, if the organization hires you. Having a solid understanding of the company, department, and job role before the interview will prepare you to be able to come up with a few ideas prior to the meeting.

8. Make eye contact when you first meet your interviewer.

Eye contact shows confidence. When your interviewer comes in to greet you, make sure to look them in the eyes and give them a strong hand shake. In fact, in one study, researchers asked participants to watch videos of strangers talking to each other for the first time and then rate how intelligent each person seemed. Results showed that the people who consistently made eye contact while speaking were considered more intelligent than those who didn't make eye contact.

If you’ve made it this far into the article, you probably have an important interview coming up. Congratulations! This could be a game changer for you. If you need some help getting mentally prepared for the big day, consider working with a career coach. Modern Therapy offers online career coaching by licensed mental healthcare professionals. A career coach can give you solid techniques to use in an interview and provide you with the competitive edge you’ll need to land that big job. Click the button below to learn more!