Small Things That Can Affect The Outcome Of A Job Interview

In order to make your way in the world, one of the first steps is to secure a job. Typically, the hiring process requires an interview, so potential employers can meet you in person and get a general feel for who you are. Now, most people would agree that job interviews can be extremely stressful. It’s an incredibly crucial first impression to make, with employers meticulously analyzing your past, who you are now, and your future goals. However, besides your qualifications and your personality, there are less obvious things that can affect the outcome of a job interview. Here are some of the most crucial ones.

The Weather Can Affect Both Parties Moods

Woman walking in the rain with an umbrella
Jason Oxenham/Getty Images
Jason Oxenham/Getty Images

Although the weather isn’t the primary driving force that affects people’s mood, studies have shown that it does have some influence. In a study performed by the University of Toronto regarding medical school admission interviews, it was discovered that those who were interviewed on a rainy day did worse than sun-day interviewees.

However, it doesn’t just affect the interviewees either. On a rainy day, those performing the interview can feel slower than usual or even bored, therefore influencing their perception of a candidate. So, if possible, try to schedule an interview on a day that you know will have clear skies and lots of sunlight.

There’s Such A Thing As Arriving Too Early

Woman waiting in chair
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Both employers and anyone with interview experience will agree that you should always arrive early for an interview. It shows that you are punctual and even gives you some extra time to prepare. If you arrive right on time everything might feel rushed, and arriving late should be avoided like the plague. However, arriving too early can hurt your chances.

According to Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert, “Don’t show up a half-hour before your interview. It can make you appear too anxious or put pressure on the interviewer. If you have extra time, gather your thoughts in your car or take a brief walk to get your energy up.”

What You Do While Your Waiting

Man sitting next to a table waiting
Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Even if it doesn’t seem like anyone is watching you, what you do as you wait speaks volumes about a candidate. You certainly don’t want to be eating or drinking coffee, and you definitely don’t want to be on your phone. It’s crucial to give off the impression that you’re fully prepared to begin at any moment.

It can also be helpful to keep at least one hand free, so you can quickly shake a hand without awkwardly fumbling around with anything. Keep in mind that body language says a lot, so sit up straight, and reviewing your notes is always recommended.

Don’t Accept The Coffee

Man drinking coffee in suit
Tollkühn/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Tollkühn/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Although there’s nothing wrong with accepting water, which can help prevent your mouth from getting dry, if the potential employer offers you anything else to drink, especially hot coffee, go without it.

Accepting a coffee means that either they or someone else has to go prepare it which takes time and delays the interview process. Especially if they have a busy day ahead of them, you’ll want to be remembered as the candidate that made their day easier, not harder.

The Color Of Your Clothing Matters

Man shopping for a suit
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

For the most part, conservative and non-flashy colors tend to be people’s best bet when it comes to meeting someone for the first time in a professional atmosphere. Wearing overly-loud or obnoxious colors can hurt your first impression.

In a CareerBuilder survey of 2,099 hiring managers and human resource professionals, it was determined that blue and black are the best colors to wear for an interviewee. Although some people think it might be beneficial to stand out, wearing brighter colors might result in you outshining the interviewer, which is something you want to avoid. However, some lighter colors have proven to be fine for female candidates.

If You Can, Choose Your Position In Line Carefully

Young adults sitting and waiting for job interview
Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty Images

If you find yourself in a situation when there are several candidates being interviewed one after another, your position in line definitely matters. Because interviewers compare candidates to the previous one, it’s important to try and avoid being the first in line. This is because it’s unlikely that the first person will blow everyone else out of the water.

You don’t want to be the last one either, because chances are they’re tired and might fall victim of decision fatigue, which can affect their perception of you. It’s recommended that you try to be right before the middle of the line so they’re still aware, energetic, and are most likely to remember you.

Knowing When, How, And, Where To Take A Seat

Woman being interviewed
Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images
Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

When you’re brought into the interview space, chances are that you’ll be sitting down. In order to show respect to the interviewer, don’t just sit down in the closest seat. Wait for them to either offer you a seat or until they’re seated themselves.

Once seated, sit up straight and look attentive, taking up as much of the chair as possible. You can also move the chair so it’s comfortable for you, which demonstrates self-confidence and initiative.

Where You Grew Up Could Have An Impact

One on one interview
Alexander DemianchukTASS via Getty Images
Alexander DemianchukTASS via Getty Images

Although it’s completely out of your control, where you grew up can seriously alter an employer’s decision in their interest to hire you. If you happen to have grown up in the same area, there’s an immediate connection that you share that will not only make you more memorable, but more relatable.

This is known as the similarity-attraction hypothesis, which means that people are more likely to gravitate to others who are similar to them, even if it’s a small connection.

Be Aware Of How Much You’re Smiling

Woman smiling during interview
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Although giving an occasional smile is totally appropriate, as it shows you’re not threatening and approachable, it’s important to be conscious of just how much you are. This is because for some professions, smiling too much might show immaturity, that you’re overly uncomfortable, or that you don’t know when to be serious.

In a study published by the Journal of Social Psychology, during mock interviews performed by college students, the candidates who smiled the most, especially during the middle of the interview, were less likely to get the job.

Strategize The Time Of Your Interview

Office clock
James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images
James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images

It really wouldn’t be the best situation to have an interview on Monday morning or near the end of the workday any day of the week – especially Friday. You want your interview to be at a time that you know you will be performing at your best and that your interviewer is the most attentive and focused.

According to Glassdoor, the optimal time to have an interview would be on Tuesday at 10:30 am. The reasoning behind this is that people have been proven to be the most productive on Tuesday and 10:30 is late enough that they’ve had time to settle in, eat, have a cup of coffee, and get their day started.

When To Send A Thank-You Note

Woman using her laptop
Philippe Brysse/Getty Images
Philippe Brysse/Getty Images

In case you were unaware, it’s common courtesy to send a thank you note after your interview, thanking the employer for taking the time to sit down with you. While sending a note is crucial, when you send it can be equally as important. If you wait too long, the interviewer may forget about you or think you’ve moved on or worse, forgot to send one.

According to Whitney Purcell, the former associate director of Career Development at Susquehanna University, “The best time frame to send a thank you email is within 24 hours after your interview […] It [should] also be during business hours.”

Schedule On Different Days Of Your Competitors

Man on the phone looking at notebook
Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Although you won’t always know when your rivals are competing, if you do, try your best to schedule your interviews on different days. It has been proven that whether you are qualified for the job depends on who else is applying.

According to a study in the journal Psychological Science, “People are averse to judging too many applicants high or low on a single day, which creates a bias against people who happen to show up on days with especially strong applicants.” Therefore, if you can space out the time between you and your rival’s interviews, you might have a better chance.

How You Interact With The Receptionist And Or Driver Is Taken Into Heavy Consideration

Receptionist on the phone
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Even if the employer or interviewer isn’t in the room, a common trick they may use is to ask the receptionist how you talked to and treated them when they were alone. If you’re friendly and cordial to the receptionist, even sparking up some small talk while waiting, it will most likely increase your chances.

Some companies even hire drivers to take candidates from out of town to the interview, and one of their jobs is to also take notes on the candidate’s manners and report back. The CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh noted, It doesn’t matter how well the day of interviews went, if our shuttle driver wasn’t treated well, then we won’t hire that person.”

Don’t Forget About The Handshake

People shaking hands
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Although some people might find it obvious, it’s crucial to remember the importance and last effect of a handshake. Giving a firm, meaningful handshake not only is key to an excellent first impression but shows that you’re there for a reason and respect the person you’re engaging with.

However, you don’t want to squeeze so hard that you hurt the person you’re shaking hands with because that can achieve the same results as having a weak handshake. There’s also nothing wrong with extending out your hand first. Just be sure to smile!

Eye Contact During Panel Interviews

Man during panel interview
George Wilhelm/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
George Wilhelm/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Although it’s a given that you should constantly be making eye contact with the person interviewing you, things can get complicated when it’s a panel interview and multiple people are asking you questions. The key is to make eye contact with people at the right time.

According to authors John B. Molidor and Barbara Parus, “Begin your response by making eye contact with the person who asked you the question. Then make random and soft eye contact with each of the other interviewers. As you finish up your response, return your eye contact to the person who asked you the question.”

Asking Your Own Questions Means A Lot

Man in an interview with a woman
Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Even if you manage to make it through the gauntlet of interview questions unscathed, it’s imperative that you take advantage of the time at the end of the interview to ask some questions of your own. Whether you prepared them beforehand or you came up with one during the process, asking at least one or two can go a long way.

However, it’s also important that these are well thought out questions to show that you’re actually interested in the job and if you would be a good fit. This is something employers definitely notice.

Don’t Overdo Your Resume

Man handing in resume
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Even though it might seem logical to put everything you’ve accomplished that may separate you from other candidates, that’s not necessarily the truth. Employers really only care about what you’ve done that pertains to the position, so there’s no real reason to put down irrelevant jobs or all the awards you received in elementary school.

The information that you include should all be useful to the interviewer, so it’s sometimes helpful to let someone else read over your resume to recommend things that could be left out.

Not Having Knowledge About The Company

Man giving an interview in a crowded room
Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images
Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Believe it or not, some candidates go to an interview without knowing all that much about the job or company that they’re applying for. Not only does this demonstrate that you don’t care all that much about the position, but it could mean this is one of the many interviews you have lined up and didn’t bother to take the time and research.

It certainly doesn’t look good if they ask you a question about the company and you don’t have an answer or if you don’t have any questions yourself.

Saying Negative Things About Past Or Current Employers

Generic job interview
Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images
Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images

Regardless of whether your last employer was the scum of the Earth or not, it’s never the best idea to say anything bad about them. The employer knows that if you’re hired they’ll eventually be your former employer as well, and they’ll assume you’ll talk bad about them as well.

In a CareerBuilder survey, it was found that 62 percent of employers are less likely to hire or promote employees with negative attitudes. Even if you weren’t treated correctly at your previous positions, flip it and turn it into a strength.

Cell Phones Present A Problem

Silhouette of a man talking on a cell phone
Bill Hinton/Getty Images
Bill Hinton/Getty Images

Even if you’re waiting to be interviewed, your cell phone should never be in your pocket. In fact, it’s safest to either turn it off completely or don’t even bring it into the building.

Even if it only vibrates for notifications, in the quiet atmosphere of an interview, the people in the room will most likely be able to hear it. This shows that you might not have your priorities straight or that you’re expecting a call or text. It’s best to not take any chances at all.