Whether you like the comparison or not, a job interview is a lot like a first date. Think about it: you usually know within the first few minutes of a date whether or not you’re interested in going on a second.

There are a multitude of factors that help you make a great first impression, and some of the best tactics are the easiest to adapt.

I’m a career coach now, but I learned the job interview game through my own trial and error. I’ve shared my experience on how to avoid big interview mistakes, but there’s something to be said for the simple, straight-forward strategies, too.

If you’re prepping for a big interview, never underestimate the importance of projecting confidence and professionalism when you walk in that room. Make it count in these four categories:

The Handshake:

We’ve all heard about the firm handshake rule hundreds of times, but it’s relevant for a reason. A weak grip does more than indicate low confidence. Because the firm handshake is part of Job Interview 101, bypassing it can make you seem disinterested or careless. Employers are looking for quick indicators to take you out of consideration, especially if the job is competitive, so don’t let this slip.

There’s an actual science behind the “perfect handshake.” If you are committed to making it count (which you should be), bring your right hand in for a firm squeeze and three shakes. Because this is a simple way to get ahead, you should consider practicing your handshake with someone before your interview. Most people never think to rehearse it, and that’s where most of the anxiety manifests.

Your Attire:

To be honest, most of my clients overthink the outfit they want to wear to an interview, and it becomes a stress point in their overall prep work. I understand that stress — as aforementioned,your first impression matters a lot! But choosing an outfit should not overshadow the actual content of your interview.

All it takes is a quick Google search of the company and/or others in the same circle to get an idea. Scope out the website or their social media page and take notes on vibe of the company and what their employees tend to wear.

When in doubt, go business casual. A lot of companies have lowered their dress code standards as the Gen X and millennial professional population grows and the tech and start-up culture spreads into other industries.

Posture and Eye Contact:

It kills me to see someone walk down the street while simultaneously scrolling their phone. Not only is it dangerous, but texting has sparked a trend, and it even has a name: the iHunch. I know you won’t stroll into your interview with your eyes on your phone, but because looking down is such a habit in our daily lives, it is harder to code switch our body language for professional settings.

Stay conscious of your posture and maintain natural eye-contact throughout the interview.It will help you look and feel like you’re in control.

Your Phone:

I’m not just talking about that iHunch — phone usage in general could make or break your chances of landing the job. I suggest you turn your phone off before entering the office so that you aren’t tempted to use it while you wait. You do want to have it on hand until you arrive and check-in, just in case the interviewer sends a last-minute email to change plans.

And of course, always make sure your phone is on silent. If it goes off in your pocket during the interview, not only will it interrupt your train of thought, but it could be the moment your interviewer decides to pass on offering you the job. It’s not hard to separate yourself from your phone, but it is hard to bounce back from a big interview blub.

None of these pointers require an overwhelming amount of preparation. As long as you go through this list before the big day, you should be ready to take on the interview with confidence and ease.

Remember: if you act like you have the confidence to ace the interview, you do have the confidence to ace the interview. No one but you will know the difference.

By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes

For a FREE course to land a new job you love, launch your dream business, or find your purpose, visit https://ashleystahl.com/


  • I'm a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host (You Turn Podcast) and author, here to help you step into a career you're excited about and aligned with. This may look like coaching you 1:1, hosting you in one of my courses, or meeting you at one of workshops or keynote speaking engagements! I also own CAKE Media, a house of ghostwriters, copywriters, publicists and SEO whizzes that help companies and influencers expand their voice online. Before being an entrepreneur, I was an award-winning counterterrorism professional who helped the Pentagon in Washington, DC with preparing civilians to prepare for the frontlines of the war on terror.