How to Impress in an Interview Appearance Nonverbal Communication Verbal Communication Be Prepared Mind the Interviewer's Age Types of Less Common Interviews
How to Impress in an Interview Appearance Nonverbal Communication Verbal Communication Be Prepared Mind the Interviewer's Age Types of Less Common Interviews
Updated 27/07/2020

How to Impress in an Interview

Looking for a proven way to get a callback after an interview? Want to stand out among other candidates? This guide will help you stick in the recruiter's memory.

Looking for a proven way to get a callback after an interview? Want to stand out among other candidates? This guide will help you stick in the recruiter's memory.

Why do employers need these nerve-wrecking face-to-face job interviews? You detailed your work experience and relevant skills in your resume and you think you have nothing to add. In fact, you do. We all are more than the sum of our skills and abilities. However, the way you talk and hold yourself supplements the initial information the recruiter gets of you.

There’s no single technique that guarantees you passing an interview with flying colors. However, there are many details paying attention to which will help you present yourself and your skills in the most successful light. There is a lot of scientifically proven data that reveals how little our consciousness can participate in decision making. Before you know it the recruiters chooses your opponent over you simply because they made a better impression. So now let’s take a look at each factor that can impress during an interview and see what you can do to turn everything to your profit.

Here are aspects for you to work on before you step into an interview room:

  • Appearance
  • Non-verbal communication
  • Verbal communication
  • Small Talk
  • Be Prepared
  • Types of Less Common Interviews


Taking care of how you look and what you wear for an interview is not something obsolete from the last century. First impression still counts. The first few minutes are enough for a good interviewer to make their opinion on you as a candidate. Whether you take a Skype call for your first job interview or you step in a boardroom for a panel interview, make sure your self-presentation is on par.

  • Dress professionally to stand out as someone who values this opportunity even for a brief Skype chat. If you have an online interview, make sure the picture that the recruiter sees is presentable. Clean up the clatter that can get into the background. Put on a button-up or fling on a jacket to convey a feel of seriousness. Take a call at a table rather than sitting on a sofa or staying in bed.
  • Google the company or even scout the head office beforehand to get a general idea of how people dress at this particular company. A position at a bank may need you to wear a suit on a daily basis whereas an Internet company is ok with employees show up in a pair of jeans and sweatshirts. A jacket is a great choice for candidates of any gender. However, you need some additional information to decide whether to dial up your ‘professional look’ or dial it down.
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Nonverbal Communication

Making a lasting impression at an interviewer is a tricky business as you never know what exactly makes that person tick. However, there are some universal things which are appealing for most people. Smiling and making eye contact have always been signs of a confident person. Interviewers are people just like all of us and they also may feel ill at ease and may look for words. If your body language demonstrates your confidence and your facial expression radiates interest, the interviewer will find you easier to like and potentially a better fit for a position.

Remember to look your interviewer in the eye

Some people underestimate the effect that making eye contact does to people. The effect is rather implicit but if you avoid looking in the eye, you will come off as less intelligent than you actually are. Consistently making eye contact when you speak makes you look more confident and smart.

Smile but not much

Research shows that if candidates smile too much, it undermines their chances to get a job. How much is too much in terms of smiling, you probably wonder. A good base line is to smile at your interviewer when you first meet and greet each other and when you say goodbye. In the middle, as the conversation gets serious and you discuss important stuff, there is no need to grin. For some candidates, smiling can be a nervous reaction to stress. Try to practice in front of the mirror. Your smile should be genuine and in response to something funny rather than a steady mode. If you are concerned that without a smile your face looks stern, practice a friendly face when you clench your teeth and keep the corners of your mouth slightly upturned. It is not a smile yet but it gives you a pleasant facial expression.

Control your gestures

Although there is always risk that interview-related stress will make you fidgety and nervous, try to control your gestures. However, don’t sit on your palms in an attempt to calm yourself down. Steepling your fingers (pressing the fingertips of your hands together like a steeple) is a great gesture of not only self-pacification but also of confidence.

Convey Enthusiasm

Sounding excited and energetic boosts your chances to wow at an interview. How to do so? Speaking in monotone will not help you. Speaking faster and louder suggests that you are intelligent and knowledgeable. Expressive speech adds points and portrays one as a credible candidate. Moreover, low-level energy and low pitch in the speaker may not only suggest to the interviewer that you are stressed but also that you are less intelligent and knowledgeable than you really are. It is ok to speak slower when you give new information so that the interviewer will have time to process it. However, if you refer to the information you already gave in your resume, you can speak more quickly.

Be assertive in a friendly way

There is no conflict between being assertive and being warm. You can have all these qualities at the same time. Look the interviewer in the eye with a slight smile on your lips and sell your skills like a pro. Be confident when you list your achievements and don’t get shy to mention your contribution to a project.

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Verbal Communication

Although scientists claim that how you say something is more important than what you actually say, let us not underestimate the power of words. Indeed, verbal communication is only a tip of the communication iceberg, with non-verbal clues being more important for decision-making. However, it can never be a pre-text to talk nonsense or be at a loss during an important job interview. Let’s take a look at things to say in an interview to impress in more detail.

Small Talk

Idle chit chat in the waiting room or even before an important conversation starts in fact helps you do well in an interview. First, it relaxes you and you will then answer the interviewer’s questions in a more natural manner. But also, it shows you from a more humane side for the interviewer too. Research shows that interviewers have a more positive perception of job-related qualities in those interviewees who are good at making small talk.

If you worry that you will not find topics for small talk and you see that the interviewer does not start any chitchatting, look around the room. If you see any personal details that can suggest the interviewer’s interests, you can work those interests into your conversation, saying that you are also interested in bird watching or yachting or whatever similarities in your hobbies and interests you found.


The art of compliments is not an easy one. If you are not confident that your compliments sound genuine, probably better to skip this clause. However, if you manage to say something pleasant about the company and/or the interviewer without self-promoting, you can earn a brownie point in the interviewer’s eyes. What does it mean without self-promoting? Some people use any opportunity to praise themselves. What works for speed-dating turns out not a winning strategy during an interview.

Avoid fillers

Recruiters and interviewers rarely ask questions out of the blue. Usually they are interested to reiterate your skills and experience in the field. So what you are about to talk about is nothing new. That is why it should not be a problem for you to avoid using like or um or ah in your speech. It is ok to say ‘Let me think’ once or twice but a much better idea is to get ready for an interview.


Be Prepared

No matter how charming and well-spoken and spontaneous you are, you should never forego the preparation stage. If you did your homework for a resume for this company, you probably know pretty much about the organization by now. Refresh your information and try to model the job interview in your head, anticipating the questions you will be asked and your preliminary answers. Here are tips that will help you get ready:

  • Run through your head most common questions interviewers ask about your past work experience and your strengths and weaknesses
  • If you meet the CEO, practice your elevator speech and be ready to talk about your most ambitious projects and principal differences from your competitors
  • Whether you applied for a job or an internship, the STAR tactics always works for structuring your response to the interviewer’s question (Situation, Task, Action, Result)

Mind the Interviewer's Age

The way you are perceived largely depends on the interviewer’s age. You probably noticed that people of different generations pay attention to different things. On the one side, division into generations is rather relative. People often differ not because of their age but because of their background, experience and temperament. On the other side, such basic classification can come handy because it has a pinch of truthfulness to it. So it is up to you to decide what to do with this information. But overall it can help you tailor your answer to the person you see in front of you.

Professor and psychiatrist John B. Molidor, Ph.D. wrote a book on how to impress in a job interview, Crazy Good Interviewing, where he suggests that each generation has their pet peeves and accents that candidates are better to take into account. Here’s his advice for interviewers’ generational age:

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.


Types of Less Common Interviews

Exploratory or Informational Interview. If you found yourself staring at the mysterious wording of ‘exploratory interview’ or ‘informational interview,’ don’t think disdainfully: there is nothing to explore and inform when you need a job right now. Indeed, there is a format for a company to gather viable candidates into a pool of potential hires. For you, it is a great opportunity to practice your skills of making lasting impressions on interviewers.

Group Interview. In addition to all the tips above, a good idea is to come earlier and look around. If you familiarize yourself with the place, you will feel less nervous.

Don’t steal the show but don’t be shy either. Listen to what others say and think what you can say. Answer some questions first to show that you can lead.

Phone Interview. Apart from appearance tips, all the other tips apply. Don’t worry if you need a few seconds to think. However, if you feel that you can’t find the right answer and keep silent for too long, ask a clarifying question or let the interviewer know that you want to make a good impression and worry too much.

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