How to Win a Job Interview: 8 Tips for Making a Strong Impression

The above picture is of a man in a suit outside a building smiling and clenching his fists in excitement.

How to Win a Job Interview: 8 Tips for Making a Strong Impression

You've finally done it: you've written the perfect resume, you've nailed your cover letter, and you've got an interview request from your prospective employer. This is exciting, but also nerve-wracking. 

You need to make an impression if you want to get the job, but how can you do that if you've never had a successful interview?

We're here to help. Read on to learn how to win a job interview and get that coveted position.

1. Practice Ahead of Time

Think of an interview as an audition. If you were going to audition for a role as an actor or actress, you'd want to practice ahead of time, right? This is no different. 

When you're practicing, try getting some of your friends or family members to help. This will make it easier for you to practice thinking on your feet because you won't necessarily know what questions are coming next.

Get a list of common job interview questions. Keep in mind that many employers will go "off-script" during interviews, so you should use these questions as a guideline rather than a "sure thing." 

When you practice, you'll feel less nervous when it's time for the real deal. 

2. Dress for the Job

Common wisdom says to "dress for the job that you want," and there's some truth to that. When you're going to an interview, try to dress nicely. This doesn't mean that you have to wear anything too formal, but you should look neat and presentable (even if the dress code is casual). 

When you have a professional appearance, you'll automatically make a better first impression. You'd never want to go into the interview room with stained or wrinkled clothing, right? 

This is even true for virtual interviews. Make sure that you look presentable on your upper half at least. 

3. Move in With Confidence 

When you arrive to the interview, try to maintain an air of confidence (even if you're feeling nervous). Move with your head held high, smile, and shake the interviewer's hand (if applicable). 

You should try to avoid a shaky voice (though this isn't always possible, and that's okay). Keep in mind that your interviewer expects you to be nervous, but they also want to know that you're able to push through that nervousness. 

4. Make Eye Contact (If Possible)

For some people, especially those who are neurodivergent or anxious, making eye contact is challenging. If you can, try to keep eye contact for as long as possible.

Eye contact makes you look more confident. Many people are also under the impression that a lack of eye contact signifies dishonesty (even if this is an ableist assumption). 

If you're struggling, consider asking for a glass of water so you have something to look at when you need a break. It's also helpful to look down at your notes or resume. 

5. Bring Notes

Speaking of notes, always bring them. Many people never think to bring notes, but notes might make you seem more professional.

Your notes should include the details that you listed on your application and your resume (so you can refer back to them), basic information about the company, and a few notes about how to answer interview questions.

Resist the urge to read your notes out loud. Instead, use them as a strong starting point when you're answering the interviewer. 

Notes show that you've come prepared. 

6. Always Amplify Your Strong Suits

During interviews, employers are going to ask questions that may seem like they want you to speak negatively about yourself. For example, the dreaded "what is your biggest weakness" question. Don't be fooled: this is actually an opportunity for you to talk about your strengths.

This doesn't mean that you should be inauthentic. Don't respond with something like "My biggest weakness is that I am a workaholic." This isn't actually what the employer wants to hear (and you'll be one of hundreds of people who will tell them that same thing).

Instead, take a legitimate weakness and talk about how you've either overcome it or how you're working on it. For example, if you struggle with getting overwhelmed when you take on extra tasks, you can talk about how you've learned how to break down each task into smaller tasks so you're able to complete them with ease. 

7. Be Prepared to Ask Questions

Did you know that an interview is also an opportunity to interview your potential employer? Good employers like it when interviewees express extra interest in their business (and you might learn something that makes the job more or less appealing). 

Ask about what a typical day would look like if you were to accept this position. Ask what the interviewer's favorite part about working at the company is. You can also ask about the general company culture (but take the answers with a grain of salt). 

8. Follow Up

Following up after an interview might be what really seals the deal, and so many interviewees don't do it!

You can follow up via email or over the phone. If you do it via email, send a thank-you email the day after the interview and talk about how much you enjoyed getting to know more about the position. 

If the hiring manager or employer gave you a set date by which they'd make their decision and contact you, avoid sending a formal follow-up message before then. It's a good idea to wait up to a week after that date as the employer likely has a lot of potential employees to work through. 

If you don't get the job, feel free to send a note asking for feedback. This will prepare you for the future and it may make you feel more comfortable if the employer actually thought the interview went well, but there was just a better fit elsewhere.

That's How to Win a Job Interview

Learning how to win a job interview is tricky, and it might take some trial and error. Don't get discouraged if your first interview isn't successful. You're learning, and that's okay!

Are you looking for a new job that's disability-friendly? Check our list of jobs from approved employers and find your new perfect career today.