Tips for Improving Your Interview Skills

Businessman conducting job interview
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A job interview gives you a chance to shine. What you say and what you do during an interview will either move you to the next round of consideration for employment or knock you out of contention.

It doesn't take much to make an impression — good or bad.

Interviewing is a competitive game, and even little things can make a big difference when you're trying to get hired.

If you haven't taken the time to dress appropriately or if you say the "wrong" thing, it could be over before it starts.

It's important to be the candidate who makes the best impression, rather than the person who blows the interview and doesn't get a shot at the job. 

How to Improve Your Interview Skills  

You'll need to do more than simply show up to the interview to perform well during a job interview and make a strong and positive impression. Taking the time to brush up your interview skills before you get on the phone or head out to an in-person interview will help you nail the interview and secure a job offer. 

Follow these strategies and tips to ace your interview. 

Know the Facts

Review your work history before the interview — and make sure what you say matches what's on your resume.

Plus, spend some time learning about the company and about the job you're applying for. The more informed you are, the easier it will be to handle interview questions and pitch your qualifications to the hiring manager.

Practice Beforehand 

Practice answering some interview questions, so you're comfortable responding to the most common questions employers ask. This type of rehearsing will help you feel confident on the day of the interview. 

Sell Yourself 

Think of yourself as the product, and be prepared to sell yourself. To do so effectively, you'll need to be able to share why you're qualified for the job. Here's how to answer questions about your qualifications. You'll also want to make it clear during the interview that you're interested in this specific job at this specific company — not just any job that's available, at any company. 

What you say — and how you say it — matters.

Your verbal communication is important. Don't use slang. Speak clearly and definitely. If you need to think about a response to an interview question, it's fine to take a minute. It's better to think before you talk than to stumble over your words. You'll want to appear calm and focused, not flustered, while answering questions. This will help you make a good impression on your interviewer. 

On the flip side, you can use non-verbal communication to impress the interviewer. What you don't say during an interview is as important as what you do say. The goal during a job interview is to appear professional and attentive throughout the interview process. 

Dress for the Occasion 

Appearances and how you conduct yourself during the interview are important as well. If you come to an interview chewing gum or drinking coffee, you will already have one strike against you. Too much perfume or not enough deodorant won't help either.

Not being dressed appropriately or having scuffed shoes will give you a second strike. (Here's more on what not to wear to an interview.) Talking or texting on your cell phone or listening to music while waiting to be called for the interview may be your final strike, and you could be done with your candidacy before you even say a word.

Treat the interview seriously. Plan your interview outfit ahead of time, leave yourself plenty of travel time so you aren't late, and show up prepared to engage in the conversation. 

Remember to Focus on Listening

It can be easy to get distracted during a job interview. It's stressful, and you're in the hot seat when it comes to having to respond to questions. That said, if you do your best to listen to what the interviewer is asking, it will be easier to frame appropriate responses.

Listen carefully and take the time to frame a thoughtful response to each of the questions you're asked.

Have Questions Ready to Ask

Be prepared to respond when you're asked whether you have any questions. You can ask about the job, the company, and about any details that you'd like to know more about.

Thank Your Interviewer

Before you leave the interview, be sure to thank the interviewer for their time, and for considering you for the position. Then follow up with an email message or thank-you letter that reiterates your interest in the position, and your thanks for being considered.

Get More Advice

Looking for more insight that will help you ace an interview? Review tips for phone interviews, second interviews, lunch and dinner interviews, behavioral interviews, and interviewing in public