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Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

These 4 Tips Will Take Your Interview Prowess to the Next Level

person interviewing
Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

When it comes to job interviews, you already know all of the standard advice.

You should do plenty of research beforehand, prepare answers for the most commonly asked questions, and show up dressed and ready (please, iron that shirt of yours) to put your very best foot forward.

Yes, when it comes to nailing a job interview, those tried and true warnings are undeniably important. But, that doesn't mean that they're all you need to know to make a killer impression.

Here are four lesser-known tips to help you ace that interview and stand out from the job search competition.

1. Leverage Small Talk to Your Advantage

Consider this: Nearly 60% of hiring managers make a decision about a candidate within the first 15 minutes of an interview.

Every second counts—but, you need to be especially impactful during the first few moments of your interaction with that employer.

One piece that's often overlooked? Small talk.

It's easy to think that the interview doesn't actually start until you sit down at that conference room table and begin answering those rapid fire questions.

However, leveraging those seemingly insignificant pockets of time for small talk—whether it's with the receptionist while you're waiting or with the hiring manager during your stroll to the interview room—can help you make more of a personal connection (and, as a result, a more memorable impression).

2. Match the Interviewer's Tone

Your goal during the interview is to present yourself as a no-brainer fit for the company and the open position. You know that involves familiarizing yourself with the culture and understanding the major responsibilities of the role you're applying for.

But, there's another subtler way to prove that you belong: Being perceptive of the interviewer's tone and overall vibe, and doing your best to match it.

If the hiring manager leans back in her chair and is approaching your interview like a casual conversation, don't hesitate to relax a little yourself. You'll only seem more nervous (not to mention more out of place), if you answer questions like a robot with stiff posture and your hands firmly clasped in your lap.

Or, if you notice a lot of excitement and buzz in the office, bring that same level of enthusiasm and passion to your interview. That's a refreshing change of pace when people are typically so buttoned up.

Of course, you always want to be true to yourself and your own career desires—there's a big difference between tailoring your demeanor and being downright inauthentic. However, if you feel like this is a place you'd really fit in, don't hesitate to subtly mirror your interviewer's approach to prove you'd be a seamless fit with the overall office vibe.

3. Be Conscious of Your Handshake

You already know that your handshake matters in professional settings. There's something about a firm grip that makes you appear that much more self-assured.

But, there's another element to a standard handshake that people often screw up: eye contact.

We'll admit that maintaining eye contact can be a little uncomfortable—particularly when you're already anxious. However, shifting your gaze before that handshake is finished actually makes you appear that much more nervous (and, subconsciously, even a little untrustworthy).

So, make sure to lock eyes with that interviewer and meet him or her with a friendly smile when shaking hands. You don't want your eyes to be what undermines the confidence you've worked so hard to build.

4. Be Prepared With Anecdotes

To prepare for the interview, you've committed thoughtful answers to standard interview questions to memory—you've even recited them in front of your bathroom mirror.

That's a solid start! But, what are you going to do when you're presented with a behavioral interview question? When the interviewer asks you to share an example or story that fits a certain circumstance, you need to be able to do more than let your jaw hit the floor and your heart leap into your throat.

It's tough to comb through your professional history for the perfect anecdote in the heat of the moment. In addition to being prepped and ready with straight-up answers, it's wise to also have some examples and personal stories in your back pocket.

That way, when the interviewer starts with that dreaded, “Tell me about a time when…" you'll be armed and ready to share the perfect scenario.

Think you know everything there is to know about job interviews? Think again.

Sure, there's tons of standard, oft-repeated guidance out there that you probably have engrained in your memory. But, when everybody is implementing that advice, it's actually the lesser-known tips (like the ones above!) that can help you really stand out.

Put these to work for yourself, and you'll be that much closer to landing that job.