Cracking the Interview Code to Find Your Way In

October 3, 2017

Nice work, you've landed an interview for that job you want. Now what? The initial excitement may wear off as nervous energy sets in. You may start to wonder: How does my experience compare to others? Is this the right fit? What do I wear? How do I make a good impression? The good news is that some of the most common interview pitfalls that can distract potential employers from our strengths are super easy to avoid.

Based on survey feedback we gathered from professionals across the U.S., we examined the results and identified five tips  to help you shine in your next interview:

1. Stick to the facts.

While it may be tempting to stretch the truth to impress, a job interview isn’t the place to fudge the facts. More than half (52%) of interviewers in the U.S. say they’ve turned down a candidate for lying about their previous work.

Mastering the art of the humble brag may be our better bet. We have to try and share our accomplishments in a way that highlights our past experiences – what we’ve contributed, the results of our work and the value and impact we’ve made.

2. Put the phone away.

One of the biggest potential interview mistakes may be sitting right there in the palm of your hands – more than one-third (35%) of interviewers have cut a candidate from consideration because they were distracted by their phone during the interview.

Before heading into the interview, take the time to fully shut down your phone (not just silent!) and place it out of sight. Removing this potential disturbance is an easy step to help bring all of your attention and focus to the conversation.

3. Timing is everything.

Always be ahead of the game — 3 out of 5 interviewers (63%) say they will pass on a candidate for arriving late, but it’s an easy thing to avoid.

We need to build in ample buffer time for our commute and make it a point to arrive at least 10 minutes early. We may even want to do a practice run the day before to account for traffic and avoid any wrong turns.  

It’s important to remember that timing can be a delicate dance. If you arrive more than 15 minutes early, you can catch the interviewer off guard if they’re not ready for us. Instead, use this extra time in the car or a nearby coffee shop to take a breath and collect your thoughts and then arrive within the 15-minute window before the interview begins.

4. Confidence is key (really!)

Sealing the deal can depend on how you carry and present yourself during the interview. More than a quarter (26%) of interviewers say strong body language in a candidate is important — even more than a degree from a top school.

Sitting up straight shows that we’re focused and paying attention. And slightly leaning forward singles a higher level of engagement in the conversation. Natural hand gestures are totally normal, but things like fidgeting, twirling hair or shaking our legs can detract from what we’re saying during the interview.

5. Dress to impress (not to distract)

First impressions matter. In fact, nearly half (46%) of interviewers have eliminated a candidate because of unprofessional attire. Don’t give an interviewer a reason to remember our attire for the wrong reasons.   

Even as more workplaces adopt casual dress codes, it remains important to be thoughtful about what we’re wearing. For women, a full pant-suit may not be necessary, but if you’re questioning the length of a skirt or graphic on a tee, chances are it’s best kept in the closet. For men, a tie may not be necessary, but you may want to leave the sneakers at home.

Before the interview, take time to investigate by looking at the company’s LinkedIn page or other social media profiles to find photos of current employees to see what they’re wearing. And if you have a LinkedIn connection at the company, consider messaging them to ask for their advice.

Today, more than 34% of workers worldwide are seeking a new job. If you’re one of them, you have the power to set yourself up for success with these interview tips. Keep at it, remain confident and you’ll find #TheWayIn to your next opportunity.

** LinkedIn partnered with Censuswide Research to carry out an online survey of 1,025 professionals in the US between May 4, 2017 and May 9, 2017.