30 tips to help you have a happier and better job interview

A man and woman shaking hands during a job interviewThe day of the job interview has arrived. My heart is beating quickly. I feel sick in the stomach. Another trip to the bathroom appears likely. Questions are on my mind: “Will the interviewers like me?” “Will I be able to answer their questions?” “What will they think of my dress sense?”

The interviewers will judge how I look, what I say, how I speak, my body language…. How will I cope? Good grief, I’m starting to tremble.

This was me many years ago on the eve of my job interviews. But now that I’ve had a fair number of job interviews – and learnt a lot along the way through trial and error – I’ve changed a lot.

Gone are the nerves and the stress. I now feel calm, confident and happy both leading up to, and during, job interviews.

So what’s changed? I know the importance of being well prepared for interviews. I also understand that it’s vital to look professional, be able to ease anxiety, have a good idea of the sorts of questions I’ll be asked, along with suitable responses…. “Prepare, prepare, prepare!” is my motto.

Below is a list of 30 ideas to help you do well at a job interview. And when your job interview goes well, you’ll feel happier, regardless of whether or not you get the job.

  1. Be prepared for the interview. Have your clothes and resume/cover letter/portfolio… ready for the interview enough time in advance so that you’re not rushing to get ready for the interview. Rushing creates stress and anxiety. You want to be calm and confident during your interview, so be well prepared.
  2. Look professional. Wear appropriate clothing — smart, neat clothing, with no holes and rips, is best. Unsuitable clothes include thongs, tank tops, and so on. Suitable clothes include suits, and collared work shirts, and (for women) appropriate blouses, and skirts that look professional and aren’t too short.
    Don’t wear anything that’s too distracting. You want the interviewers to focus on what you’re saying, and not be distracted by your clothes, earrings, make-up… — so nothing too bright and/or distracting. For example, if you wear make-up, it’s best to put on a moderate rather than a large amount. And wear neutral tones rather than really bright and distracting colors.
    Have clean, neat and brushed hair. If you’re a male, shave, or, if you have a beard, ensure that it’s clean and well groomed.
    Don’t wear sunglasses, don’t chew gum, and don’t wear baseball caps during the job interview — they look unprofessional.
  3. Be hygienic. Wear deodorant. Have clean hands and fingernails. Don’t have garlic, onions, curry and other smelly foods on your breath. Brush your teeth. These sorts of things might seem small, but they all add up and affect people’s impressions of you — and you want to make a good impression.
  4. Be confident, but not over cocky. Find a balance between being under confident and over confident, as neither are good.
  5. Think positive thoughts. Ease stress and anxiety with positive thinking. Instead of thinking “I’ll do a bad job; I always stuff up job interviews”, instead think, for instance, “I can do a great job of this job interview. I will do better than last time. I am always improving. I am well prepared this time, so I will do well.”
    Constantly think positive thoughts – such as these – both leading up to and during the interview. You’ll feel happier, calmer, more confident… so you’re more likely to get the job than if you think negative thoughts.
  6. Let go of bad feelings from past job interviews that didn’t go well. Today is a new day. Bad times do not have to keep recurring. By changing our thoughts and behaviors, we can all improve, and move forward in life.
    Winners know that positive thoughts and behaviors lead to positive outcomes. Direct your thoughts towards achieving your goals, and getting excellent results. Be a winner!
  7. Be happy, positive and wide awake. Being negative/critical/tense… will hinder your chances of being the successful applicant. But being happy and upbeat will work in your favor. Get enough sleep before the interview so that you feel refreshed and alert on the interview day.
  8. Be enthusiastic. Don’t be hyperactive during the interview, but do show energy and enthusiasm for the job that you applied for.
  9. Be interested in the job, the company, and the interviewers. Listen carefully. Look the interviewers in the eye when communicating with them. Nod your head appropriately when they speak. Now and then say words such as “yes” and “ah-ha”.
  10. Keep responses to interview questions an appropriate length, and respond appropriately to questions. Simple yes-no type responses to questions that clearly need some elaboration would be inappropriate. Long-winded and unclear responses are also no good. Find a middle-ground between being too succinct and too lengthy with your responses.
  11. Before the interview, know the sorts of questions that the interviewers might ask you, along with appropriate responses. Write these down and memorize key words in your responses, if you need to, so that you feel prepared for the interview.
    Over the years, I’ve been asked many of the same questions at different job interviews. Type “common job interview questions” into an Internet search engine, such as Google, if you’re interested. You’ll find many examples of common interview questions, and good ideas for responses.
  12. Practice answering mock interview questions with family and/or friends before the interview, if necessary. Ask for honest feedback, and ideas for how to improve. Record your responses and play them back to yourself. Get to the stage where you’re confident at answering interview questions, and you’re happy with how you sound.
  13. Talk in the appropriate manner for the job. You want to sound like you’d suit the job, so use the sort of language, tone of voice, and so on, that’s appropriate. For example, if you were going for a job as a phone counsellor, the way you would speak would differ from going for a job as a comedian.
  14. Have appropriate and welcoming (not aggressive or tense…) body language. Don’t put your feet on the table, and don’t cross your arms. Sit upright in the interview chair, not slouched back.
  15. Don’t say any bad remarks, put downs, swear words, inappropriate jokes, bad words about past managers/workplaces, and so on. Always be kind. Even if you’re asked questions such as: “What are some personality traits of previous managers that you didn’t get along well with?” or “Why did you leave your past job?” you can still give polite and kind answers. Tell a little white lie and/or understate how bad things were or seemed, if necessary, — it’s better than appearing rude and nasty.
    It’s best to tell no jokes at all then tell ones that are inappropriate or you’re unsure about. To be on the safe side, unless you’re going for a job as a comedian (or a similar position), I recommend telling no jokes during a job interview.
    “F bombs” or any other swear words are completely inappropriate. Be, and sound, professional and employable.
  16. Be kind, polite and courteous.
  17. Speak clearly, and at a moderate pace and volume. You will be judged both on what you say and how you say it, so aim high in both areas.
  18. Imagine the interview going well. Throughout the days/weeks leading up to the interview, imagine (visualize) feeling happy, calm and confident during the interview, and answering the questions well. Often imagine positive scenes like this throughout the day.
    As we think, so we become and create. Anxiety often starts when people expect and imagine that bad things will happen. They think about bad situations so much, they can create them. So, instead of thinking negative thoughts, often imagine doing well at your interview, and being relaxed and positive. You can feel this way, if you imagine it enough and believe it. You’ll also be more likely to succeed at the interview.
  19. Know about the company. Know what they do, their products/services, their values, mission statement, and so on. Research and learn about the organization that you’re having an interview with, if you don’t know enough about it. Be familiar with their website.
  20. Be punctual. Arriving late for the interview is not good, and reduces your chances of getting the job. Leave home early – rather than later – for the interview.
    If you arrive too early for the interview, if you drove in, sit in your car and perhaps read a book, or information about the company that you’re having the interview at. Other options are, for instance, visit shops close by, or go to the bathroom and freshen up, but whatever you do, do your best to arrive on time or slightly early; about 5 minutes early is enough. Some interviewers prefer their interviewees to arrive early.
    Phone the interviewer if you are going to be late. Apologize and give a brief reason for your lateness, if you think it will help you. If possible, reschedule the interview if you’re going to arrive too late.
  21. Be warm and friendly. Behaving cold and distant during the interview is not good. But don’t be over friendly – like the interviewers are your long-lost best friends – either. Be friendly, yet still professional.
  22. Don’t laugh too loudly and/or laugh for too long at jokes and funny remarks interviewers say. Remember, everything in moderation!
  23. Control stress and anxiety, and don’t be flustered. Be calm and in control of any negative emotions. Being well prepared for the interview will help. Why not have one or more calming caffeine-free herbal teas before the interview, instead of coffee, tea or energy drinks?
    Read books, magazine articles, information on the Internet… about controlling stress and anxiety, if you feel the need. There’s plenty of help available.
  24. Have a good handshake. A good handshake is not too weak, too strong, too long, too short, too slow or too fast. Sound all too much?! Don’t worry, it’s not!
    I have shaken hands with many people over the years, and some people certainly need to improve their handshake. Google “good handshake”, if you need to. There’s plenty of information on the web. If necessary, practice with someone beforehand who can give you good feedback on your handshake. A person I knew years ago taught me how to shake hands. I checked on the Internet to see if the technique he taught me was appropriate, and credible websites confirmed that it was. After a little practice, I had a good hand shake.
  25. Be aware of little set-ups/tests that interviewers might give you. I’ve had interviewers who “set me up” with things that they say. This is to test me to see if my responses will be rude, inappropriate…. It’s a common technique people use when they want to see your responses to – potentially – awkward/inappropriate… things that they say. Never be nasty or say harsh put-downs. Always be kind. Often just saying a polite and brief “mmm” might be appropriate, especially if you don’t know what to say.
  26. Don’t pull faces or stick your tongue out. Both are, obviously, inappropriate, unprofessional and childish. Have a relaxed and happy face throughout the interview.
  27. Turn off your mobile phone, or have it on silent, during the interview. Unless it’s absolutely urgent, turn your phone off or onto silent during your interview. If it is urgent that you make or take a call, briefly tell the interviewers why. “Urgent” means, for example, that close loved ones have just died or been in a severe accident.
  28. Do not text during the interview. If you want the job, don’t text! Keep your phone in your pocket/handbag during the interview. Give your undivided attention to the interviewers.
  29. Leave the interview on a positive note. After an interview, thank the interviewers for interviewing you. Shake hands with all of them. Smile. Be positive and happy, and if you don’t feel this way, pretend that you are.
  30. Remember to smile!

written by Nyomi Graef

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2 Responses to “30 tips to help you have a happier and better job interview”

  1. Joyce Grace says:

    I recently graduated with a MS in Psychology and I am working on my Family Therapy credential. My plan is to be a church volunteer. I am trying Behavior Intervention.

    Have you any tips to overcome age bias. I find as an older adult graduation does not have any oomph for me. I have to be for my daughter and grandchildren still in school too.

    I love your website, I hope to have mine up soon. You have inspired me.



  2. Nyomi says:

    Hi Joyce,

    Thanks for commenting and your kind words about my website. Sorry to take a while to respond to your comment.

    Congratulations on graduating! I wish you all the best in the future.

    Have you done a search on Google and/or another search engine to find tips about how to overcome age bias? You could find some ideas this way.

    All the best with your website.

    Best wishes,


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