Psychology Tips for Job Interviewing

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The principles of psychology can be applied to a number of situations, including a job interview. Preparing for an interview can be time-consuming and stressful: you need to find the right clothes, gather portfolio materials and print off extra resumes, research the organization you’re applying to join, and prepare answers to the expected questions. But mentally preparing yourself and knowing how to interact with your interviewer are equally important, and it’s in those areas that employing a little psychology can be most helpful. Try the following techniques.

– Be complimentary. A 2004 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology showed that job applicants who spent time praising the interviewer and their organization performed the strongest. Interviewees with a friendly, genial manner also performed better than those who adopted a more aggressive, self-promoting demeanor.

– Psych yourself up out loud. Another study showed that in a job interview context, repeating self-affirming phrases like “I can enter the room in a confident manner” verbally had a positive effect. Just be sure to do it privately rather than in front of others!

– Visualize success. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Managerial Psychology investigated the effectiveness of mental imagery in simulated job interviews. People who imagined themselves having a good interview and getting a job offer reported less stress and tended to outperform people who did not employ this technique.

– Find a reason to smile genuinely. Positive body language, like smiling, has a beneficial impact on an interviewer’s evaluation of an applicant, but a 2008 study showed that false smiling doesn’t pack nearly the same punch.

– Be upfront about your weaknesses and close with your strengths. A 1972 study evaluating when to reveal damaging information showed that interviewers tended to appreciate people who were honest and forthcoming about their weaknesses. Saving a discussion of your strengths for the end of the interview also makes you appear humble and may help interviewers form a positive final impression, since your strengths will be among the last things they hear from you.

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