Interviews – whether you love them or hate them: every job seeker must learn to ace the interview in 15 minutes or less. In the age of impatience, we get very little time to make a great first impression. It’s a sad fact that the person most qualified for the job doesn’t always get the job. It’s the person who interviews the best that gets the offer. 

It’s believed that 33% of employers will make a decision to not hire you within 90 seconds based on the first impressions you make.

1.Learn to Relax

This is one of the most difficult interview skills to acquire. Your stress level could be particularly high if you place a lot of importance on the interview! The more important a task or event is to use, the more stressful it can become. We must train ourselves to relax. Some use meditation, deep breathing exercises, mindfulness or other mind-clearing processes before an interview in order to become (and remain) calm.

A relaxed mind is a mind is a more efficient mind. You will be better able to think quickly if you are not stressed and therefore throwing your body into ‘fight or flight’ mode. 

2.Lose the Limp Grip

Handshakes are common during introductions. Please lose the limp grip and lighten up on the strangle-hold hand grasp. Limp grip handshakes make a terrible impression and vise-like grips can be taken as overly aggressive. Practice your handshake to make sure it’s not like handling a dead fish or an attempt to arm-wrestle.

3.Walk with Confidence

Body posture matters more than you think. According to Amy Cuddy, Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist, studies show how nonverbal behavior influence people and can even shape who they become. Cuddy is a proponent of ‘Power Postures’ which impacts how we interact with others. Striding forward with your head up and shoulders back is an indication of confidence.

4.Body Language Matters

You might be sitting up straight and have a smile plastered on your face, but the knuckles on your clasped hands are white from stress. You are answering questions smoothly, but you are also mangling your ink pen in the process. These are called ‘Tells’ and are indicative of internal stress or turmoil. 

Do mock interviews with mentors or trusted friends. Have them tell you any nervous habits they observed. Are you holding eye contact appropriately? Do you fidget unnecessarily? Become aware and do your best to mitigate any nervous ticks or outward signs of stress.

Posture Tip: Demonstrating an open posture and sitting up straight, for example, will lower stress and increase confidence. Closed postures, such as slouching or hugging your arms will send insecurity signals to our bodies. This, in turn, restricts how well we are able to communicate our thoughts to others.


Someone said to me ages ago: “Smile when you talk on the phone, people can hear it.” I thought that was the most ridiculous idea I’d ever heard until years later when I actually tried it. Even if you are doing a phone interview: SMILE! You don’t need to have a phony grimace sewn to your lips throughout the entire meeting. A genuine smile at the introduction and periodic smiles before answering questions are recommended for the best impression.

6.Be Enthusiastic!

Unless you don’t want to work for the company, act like you are happy to be there! The first step is to become calm. The second step: become happy. Happiness is a decision, not a condition. Happiness allows your eyes to light up and gives you a clear mind to think with. Attitude is infectious and even if you have a dragon for an interviewer it just might lighten the mood. People are also willing to overlook minor mistakes if you have a winning attitude.

7.Be Intentional

Most people I know struggle with communicating intent through action. This disconnect often creates miscommunication through your body language, tone of voice or word choice. We judge ourselves by our intent but others judge us by our actions

Becoming self-aware (not self-critical) is the first step towards understanding if we are sending the right messages. No one can see, smell or hear your intent unless you communicate it clearly. I have been guilty of poor tone of voice choices for certain situations in the past and it hurt my career.

Prep Tip: Practice interview scenarios in front of your phone camera. If being recorded increases your stress, practice with a friend instead. However, it is useful to see what you look like when you respond to questions. Review the video for any disconnects and areas to improve. 

Ace the Interview in 15 Minutes or Less

Body language, tone of voice, clarity of speech and attitude all determine whether you are a good job candidate within the first few minutes. Even if you have had a terrible experience parking or received bad directions from your interview contact: put your smile in place, choose your attitude, and ace the interview in 15 minutes or less!

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  • Erin Urban

    Career growth & leadership development coach, author and speaker focused on lifting others up into powerful positive transformations.

    Erin Urban, LSSBB, is a certified professional development coach, speaker, and author with a mission to inspire powerful positive transformations. With an extensive background in leading individual, cultural and organizational change initiatives: Erin is a certified leadership development coach, Forbes Contributor, and founder of UPPSolutions, LLC. For more information, visit and connect with Erin on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.