How To Psychologically Ace Your Interview

Now that you’ve read How to Adult: Careers, you’re ready to start preparing for what comes next …
You’ve just scored an interview with your dream job – amazing! Now what? Now you spend hours reviewing your resume and preparing answers to questions that you would never have thought to be asked, right? Well, somewhat – you not only need to thoroughly understand your knowledge, skills, abilities, and characteristics (KSACs), but you should also be psychologically prepared.
Even though the hiring team should not be solely relying on the job interview to select candidates, reality is, most do. Given the importance of how you conduct yourself before, during, and after an interview, we’ve researched a few psychological theories to help make yourself look that much better to the interviewer:

  • Serial Position Effect: Hiring managers typically interview candidates individually in sequence and then select the best candidate for the role. The serial position effect is the tendency to recall information that is presented first and last better than in the middle. If you have flexibility to schedule when your interview occurs, choose a time that is either early in the morning or late afternoon. Proceed with caution, though: you wouldn’t want to have an interview late afternoon if the interviewer had a terrible day!
  • Power Stance: Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Professor, has found that changing your body stance before an interview can greatly increase your confidence. Although tempting, refrain from hunching over your phone waiting for the interviewer to come greet you (which lowers confidence); rather, take a few minutes in the bathroom stall to lift your head up, stand tall, and put your hands on your waist. This has proven to lead to more confidence, enthusiasm, and higher ratings. For our Grey’s Anatomy fans out there – Amelia Sheppard can be seen doing just this before she conducts the biggest surgery of her career – referring to the position as the Super Hero Stance.


  • Mimicry: Sociably imitating another person’s behaviour leads to strong-liking and rapport. This includes verbal and non-verbal mimicking: matching your gestures, vocal pitch and tone, posture, eye contact, and body orientation to that of the interviewer will have them think more positively of you. Although mirroring another is often subconscious, you can control it by paying attention to how the interviewer is behaving – just remember to be subtle about it (i.e., don’t make it obvious and weird).
  • Emotional Contagion: Being in a great mood and communicating this can be contagious. You will most likely be asked: “Why do you want to work here?”; ensure you speak expressively without being monotonic and reiterate your enthusiasm for not only the position but the company itself. Be sure to ask questions as well – show you are interested in learning more and what you can offer based on the additional information they provide. When you first meet your interviewer, make eye contact, give them a firm handshake, and smile; this shows that you are confident and intelligent. Again, it’s all about balance – don’t overdue the happiness and enthusiasm, but definitely don’t come across as a grump.


  • Priming effect: Conceptual priming is the technique where words can activate associated memories (e.g., attitudes), which can influence performance on a subsequent task. If the interview went well, a final follow-up email to the interviewer within 24 hours would increase your chances of getting hired. Thank them for their time, discuss a few of your strengths and how they tie into the role (reiterating the words you said during the interview), and add any new information that has been left out. Your positive words in the email can prime the interviewer’s good attitude they had during the interview and ultimately increase your ratings.

We’d like to think of the above as your own personal cheat sheet to interviewing. Though it may take some thought and a balance of the actions to ensure you’re not over doing it, these tips can make all the difference.
Good Luck!
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