Got an interview coming up? Want to nail it?

As a recruiter for companies like Google, Coca-Cola, Bigcommerce and most recently the company I co-founded, Betterteam, I’ve interviewed candidates for thousands of positions over the years.

I’ve seen lots of candidates give awesome interviews, and loads of less-than-spectacular ones too. Over the years I’ve been able to distill what I’ve seen down to a few quick tips that anyone can use to improve their interviewing.

It’s good to remember before going in that while it may be a job seeker’s market right now, the costs of a bad hiring decision are staggering. People are often just as afraid of hiring the wrong person as they are of letting a position go unfilled.

These tips will help make sure that you don’t accidentally disqualify yourself, and let an interview mistake ruin your chances.

1. The First Impression IS the Impression

I’m not exaggerating a bit. Science has shown that humans form opinions of one another in seconds, and after that, we just look for more evidence that our initial opinion was correct.

Being late, unpresentable, having sweaty handshakes, being overly nervous… All these little things are what count in those first moments.

Here’s some pre-interview advice:

  • Get a little exercise before the interview. This will naturally help calm your nerves.
  • Don’t overdo it on the coffee.
  • Arrive at least 20 minutes early. Go even earlier if you’re in for a drive with unpredictable traffic.
  • Use the extra time use the bathroom, do a final appearance check in the mirror, and relax a moment – try walking around the block once or twice while listening to your favorite music.
  • Make sure that your very first impression – your resume – is ready for recruiters.

On time, as relaxed as possible and looking your best – that’s the impression you want them to stick with.

2. Don’t Curb Your Enthusiasm

Ok, I just told you to be relaxed – but you still want to show some energy and enthusiasm. I always look to recruit people who show strong interest in the job and clear motivation to do it.

If you’re excited to get the job, show it.

3. Be Ready to Talk About Why You’re Leaving Your Last Job

Pretty much every job recruiter will ask about this.

The first rule is not to be negative about your previous employer or boss. No matter how bad they were, this isn’t the time or place for trash talking. Just about every recruiter, myself included, sees this as a huge red flag.

When asked about it, and you almost surely will be, start by talking about the positives. Mention things that “we” did at your previous company that you’re proud of. Eventually, come around to talking about how you’re ready to learn more, and are looking for new opportunities.

Basically, you want to give the impression that you outgrew the company.

4. Be Focused On this Role

Be clear that you’re interested in the particular role that you’re interviewing for, and not weighing it against several others. So, if you’re applying to be a sales manager, don’t let on that you’re also considering a copywriting job.

People who aren’t focused on a particular role are prone to high turnover, and will likely be passed on by recruiters and hiring managers.

5. Know the Industry

Be ready to answer questions about industry trends, and the position in a wider sense. Read up on any recent industry news, and be ready with examples of who you think is doing the very best work in the industry.

6. Know Your Facts, and Don’t Embellish

If you’ve been in any past position where numbers really matter, you’ll want to be ready to accurately answer questions about them.

For instance, if you worked in sales, be ready to talk about your sales numbers. Don’t just pull numbers out of the air. If you get caught exaggerating, you’re done. And it’s easy to catch.

A common tactic recruiters use is asking about specific numbers toward the beginning of an interview, and then again at the end. If you’re making them up, it’s pretty likely you won’t remember the numbers you invented.

7. Get Comfortable Talking About Money – But Not Too Comfortable

Seasoned recruiters and hiring managers will have asked candidates about previous and expected salaries loads of times, and will be at ease asking you direct questions about salary.

Be prepared to talk directly about your expected salary, and why you merit that salary.

You should know the market rate, where your request falls, and why.

That said, once the topic is dealt with, don’t dwell. Candidates who seem overly focused on money are a big red flag.

That’s what I’ve got! Now’s a great time to be on the job market. There are more job openings available in the U.S. than ever. Don’t let a bad interview keep you from getting your dream job.

Following the seven steps above should give you a better shot, and keep you from doing anything that disqualifies you. Learn more about how to impress recruiters.

Written By
Paul Peters is content marketer and job ad writer with Betterteam. Before Betterteam he spent 6 years building an education startup, where he was was involved with many aspects of the business, including hiring and marketing. He lives in Whitefish, Montana.