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Tips to nail your interview

By Gemma Raw

Job interviews are stressful. From the initial preparations, through to using the right body language and even assessing your own performance; there’s a lot to think about.

But there are several easy tricks that you can use to give yourself a psychological advantage. Using subtle manipulations, you can adjust the hiring manager’s first impression of you and give yourself a stronger chance of achieving that dream job.

The first trick is to remember that hiring managers are not scary people. They are just ordinary professionals like yourself – so try to act natural and engage in a normal conversation. Think about how you interact with families and what you’re often looking for. A smile, a strong handshake, and good eye contact will certainly help you appear more confident.

Let’s take a look at some of the other psychological tricks that may gain you an advantage in the interview room…

Wear a ‘power’ colour to your next job interview

It may sound like a cliché, but first impressions count.

And as much as we loathe to admit it, what we wear, may play a big part in that first impression. Much has been written about what colour clothes to wear to an interview, and whilst some of it can be disregarded, there is something to be said about the psychological effect of a ‘power colour’.

During the interview, you’ll want the hiring managers to remember you. After all, they’ll likely be seeing plenty of other candidates so how can you stand out? Your interview outfit needs to show that you are professional yet approachable. Confident yet calm. The colours that you choose to wear can subtly project your preferred image; so, what colour should you go for?

  • Black is an authority colour. If you’re aiming for a senior management position, then it’s a good choice to make. It shows that you’re serious but it’s also a confident colour. In general, you can’t go wrong by wearing black although you may wish to use an accent colour (perhaps a scarf, necklace or even your handbag) to avoid looking funeral-like.

  • Blue is for control. Blue is a fantastic choice for job interviews because psychologically speaking, blue represents calmness, stability, trust-worthy, truth and honesty – all qualities required of a great social worker.

  • Grey shows sophistication. Grey is one of the most popular colours for interviews because it’s not distracting. Interviewers can focus on what you’re saying without being distracted by that geometric print or crazy outfit. With so many different shades and tones available, it’s a stylish colour which is a great alternative to black outfits.

  • Red is the ultimate power colour. As colours go, red is always a bold choice. Whilst it suggests assertive, confident and bold, it could reflect negatively in the interviewer’s eyes as it may portray an image of power or aggression. However, it can make a fantastic accent colour.

  • White is always precise. White shirts and blouses may conjure up images of school uniforms, but they are always a safe colour to wear in interviews because it suggests precision, cleanliness, and simplicity. It’s not distracting (as long as it’s not see-through) and can be used to tone down any other colours that you choose to wear.

Mirror the hiring manager’s body language

Up to 85% of what we say is communicated through non-verbal methods. As trained social workers, you’ll know how important body language is – you can read cues which indicate confidence, fear, understanding or attention. It should be no surprise that if you mirror the body language of the interviewer then you’ll subtly be reflecting their own image – something which could be of great value if you wish to be successful in the interview.

Of course, you don’t want to be directly imitating the hiring manager, but if you notice that they are leaning forward or that they are using their hands to gesture, then why not replicate this in your next answer?

Use the interviewers name

One easy way to get a hiring manager to like you, is to repeatedly use their name as you direct your answers specifically towards them. If you’re being interviewed by a panel, try to remember each person’s name and during points of the interview you can drop it in. It will help each member of the panel feel much more positive towards you and will demonstrate your listening skills.

Of course, this trick only works sparingly and if you are going to personalise your answers towards a specific person make sure you get their name right!

Consider using ‘power priming’ techniques

We often feel that we could have done better during an interview because we may be nervous or apprehensive. Studies have shown that candidates who participate in ‘power priming’ techniques may boost their confidence levels compared to those who don’t.

So, what is a ‘power priming technique?’ Simply put, it’s a strategy where you think about times where you felt powerful, empowered and influential before you enter the interview room. If you keep these moments to the forefront of your mind, then you can portray your confidence as you walk in. 

If you’re nervous about your next job interview, please contact one of Sanctuary’s dedicated consultants. Not only will they be able to help you understand what the managers are looking for, they’ll be able to help you work on your confidence and learn how to sell yourself effectively.