How to Be Successful in an Interview

Posted: September 7, 2018 12:00:00 PM CDT

Person participating in an interview

By Kennedy Kluthe

Are you preparing to receive a big scholarship or land your dream job? Typically, part of the process to reach these achievements includes an interview. The interview is the first time that you will be seen off paper and as a real person. The interview is often viewed as the “make it or break it” point in the selection process. In order for you to get your big scholarship or dream job, consider following these five easy steps.

1. Practice Your Handshake

Imagine yourself walking into that office. The interviewer stands up and smiles, and your first go to move is (drumroll) the handshake. In America, the handshake is our customary form of greeting, particularly in business situations. In an interview, the handshake is the first impression the interviewer gets of your personality and character. It may seem crazy that someone could judge your personality off of a handshake, but it happens every day. In fact, there have even been psychological studies over the first impressions of different types of handshakes. Researchers have found that the firmer your grip is, the more likely you are to be extraverted and open to new experiences and the less neurotic you are likely to be (Chaplin, Phillips, Brown, Clanton, & Stein, 2000). Extraverted and open individuals are more likely to have a successful interview and land the job or scholarship, so make sure you practice a firm handshake.


2. Perfect Your Style

It is important when you go into an interview, that what you are wearing reflects the type of person you want to come off as. For example, if you are applying for a business job or scholarship, you will want to look professional. If you are applying for a fashion job, you will want to be a bit trendier. It is generally a good rule of thumb to dress blandly so that the interviewer’s attention goes to your words and not your appearance. The colors you wear can also have a significant impact on the interviewer’s impression of you. There is evidence that suggests when color enters the eye, it indirectly affects the hypothalamus (Adler, 1999). As stated by Coon and Mitterer (2016, p. 74), “the hypothalamus is a kind of master control center for emotion”. The colors black, grey, and brown are all associated with strength, making them great wardrobe colors for an interview.


3. Make Eye Contact

It is extremely important that you make eye contact with the person interviewing you. When you make eye contact with a person, it makes the other person’s brain find you more interesting. Eye contact can cause the brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine (Kampe, Frith, Dolan, & Frith, 2001). Dopamine is correlated with the rewards system of the brain. Even something as simple as making eye contact with your interviewer can make them react more positively toward you (Coon & Mitterer, 2016).


4. Speak Up

It is important when you go into an interview that you speak loud enough so that the interviewer can hear you. This may sound like an obvious statement, but it is crucial. If you do not speak up, you will come off as indecisive and timid, which in the work place would relate to low productivity. However, if you speak too loud, you may come off as hard to work with. The volume throughout your interview should be like a normal conversation, right around 60 decibels (Coon & Mitterer, 2016). It is also important that you do not talk too quickly and rush your interview. Try to stay relaxed and confident for maximum success in your interview.


5. Have a Confident Posture

It is important while you are in your interview that you maintain proper body posture and sit up straight. Body language tells half the story, so be sure to stay calm and refrain from wiggling in your chair. This will not only make you look more confident, but it will also make you feel more confident. It has been shown that sitting upright in a stressful situation helps you to maintain high self-esteem and a positive mood as well as increase your rate of speech (Nair, Sagar, Sollers, Consedine, & Broadment, 2015). A little self-boosting is always beneficial, especially in a stressful situation like an interview.




Adler, L. (1999). Responding to Color. Cooperative Extension Service, Retrieved from web

Chaplin, W., Phillips, J., Brown, J., Clanton, N., & Stein, J. (2000). Handshaking, gender, personality, and first impressions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 110-117. doi:10.1037//0022-3514.79.1.110

Coon, D., & Mitterer, J. (2016). Introduction to Psychology. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Kampe, K. W., Frith, C. D., Dolan, R. J., & Frith, U. (2001). Reward value of attractiveness and gaze. Nature, 413(6856), 589-590. doi:10.1038/35098149

Nair, S., Sagar, M., Sollers, J. 3rd., Consedine, N., & Broadbent, E. (2015). Do slumped and upright postures affect stress responses? A randomized trial. Health Psychology, 34(6), 632-641.  doi:10.1037/hea0000146.

By: Kennedy Kluthe

Category: Psychology, General

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