How to Dominate Your Job interview

dominate your job interview

Do you want to dominate your job interview? Of course you do! The trick to dominate your job interview isn’t to answer questions perfectly. It’s to take care of the little details that give a good impression. Yes, you need to be able to do the job and you need to answer questions very well. However, the most judgement will go towards the little things that you do.

Whether you like it or not, whether you disagree with it or not, whether you don’t do it or not, people will judge the little things. It’s taken me a long time to figure out but I’m more than ever convinced and the small details in life make the biggest differences in the world to people.

Conversation with the HR Manager

It all started when some of the coworkers went out to lunch with the HR managers. The next round of associates were to be hired and they were telling us about the interview process with them. We started probing as to what kind of things they looked for in a candidate. What they said next really opened my eyes.

They told stories how each interviewer is given a characteristic to judge on, teamwork, for example. They score the interview and relay the score back to the HR managers before moving on to the next interview. Based on how the candidate did, they judge and rank the scores and review comments for tiebreakers. 

Even during breaks, they were watching and judging everything that the candidates were doing. Were the candidates socializing? Were they being nice? How do they interact with others? I would have thought because it’s during a break, it wouldn’t matter as much.  

There was this one girl who wouldn’t get off her phone during the breaks. The full time people would try to make conversation with her and she still wouldn’t get off. She didn’t get an offer.

Maybe she dominated her job interview by answering questions flawlessly. However, all the domination in the world didn’t matter. The tiniest things made a difference between getting an offer or not. That opened up my perspective. 

How I Viewed Interviews

I didn’t think the tiny details in the interviews were the most important factors. I thought the big picture was what mattered the most. Did I have relevant experience? Am I smiling and generally likable? Am I analytical enough of a person to do the job?

The conversation I had with the HR managers shed a different light. I realized that the big picture things matter. However, they’re never the things that tip the scale to get an offer.

I thought back to my interviews and realized maybe that was why I had so many rejections. I focused so much on the bigger picture aspects and never the little details. My past and relevant work experiences, thinking of stories for teamwork, and answering the questions in a results oriented way are what I thought were the most important.

However, what mattered more are things like my shirt being ironed, shoes being shined, and how I gave my answers. 

Past Interviews

My past interviews and rejections are starting to make sense now. People will judge on the little things, and that makes the biggest difference. One of my interviews, during the lunch he said how it’s become customary to men to wear black socks with suits.

I joked that maybe I should go change my socks real quick (even though I was wearing black socks). He immediately replied with “no, I checked already, you’re good.”

What! When? How? That’s actually important? I still don’t understand how wearing black socks would be a direct and big correlation to how well I would perform at the job. Maybe it signals how much I care about the interview, which I don’t think is the biggest indicator of showing care. I ended up scoring an offer from them but I can’t help but wonder if I would have gotten an offer if I was wearing white socks. 

If you really want to dominate your job interview, pay attention to the details. How you look, how you sound, etc.  

Typical Small Things That Matter

  • How you dress
  • How you sound or talk
  • Your behavior
  • If you’re smiling
  • How your hair looks
  • Your posture
  • Your questions
  • How you treat others

These are a subset of the bigger list of the things that interviewers remember. It’s a very judgmental thing to do but they will do it. I talked to a city CEO once to ask for advice but I was dressed casually. Button down shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes. I dressed in such a way because I talked to CFOs and chairmans wearing what I was wearing and haven’t had any trouble.

The CEO doesn’t answer any of my emails anymore.

Dominate Your Job Interview

I’ve outlined how to position yourself in your career. However, a career only happens after an interview (even if it’s only a formality interview). That’s why crushing the interview is the first step to be successful in your career. 

If you really want to dominate your job interview, I can’t emphasize the importance of taking care of the little things. People are naturally judgmental. It’s an instinctive and survival thing. People gauge whether the person is trustworthy, intelligent, ethical, etc. through passing judgement.

No matter what you do and how to try to stop it, you won’t be able to stop people from judging. That’s why it’s smart to know what kind of things people will judge on. I can bet my money that the little things are what people pay attention to, instead of the big things.

Readers, how do you plan to dominate your job interview? Do you agree that the details are what matters the most in interviews? Do you have an interesting job interview story? Let me know in the comments below!

Finance Solver

I grew my net worth to $40,000 as a college student through hard work, discipline, and a little bit of luck. I graduated college in 2016 and will be starting to plan for my retirement once I start working.I am planning on reaching financial independence by my early 30's and I will document my moments of inspiration all the way to desperation here.

My goal is to enable your success in personal finance so that you can realize the American dream. The first step is starting today!

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8 thoughts on “How to Dominate Your Job interview

  1. I think you nailed it here. I did interviews over the last few weeks and the people who got the jobs (teachers) could give very specific and detailed answers. The big picture is OK for general questions, but you need to separate yourself from others by really being on your game and knowing what you are talking about. Interesting about your story and the black socks too!

  2. I’m actually going to throw some grease into the mix. Not all companies are looking for you to dress suit and tie. Some companies won’t hire you if you do dress up. As such its super important to do your research on the type of place your interviewing. Some will be like your HR department, others will be like the Facebook CEO a decade ago going to meetings in a hoodie.

    For the record my first interview with my current company the first boss dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. They didn’t hold it against me that I wore a suit, but it could have cost me.

  3. So crazy that they checked for black socks but I 100% believe it. My last boss would notice if a guy would buy a new shirt for the interview or would wear an old one (by the way the collar looked)! I never noticed differences in formal clothing when I was interviewing candidates but I definitely noticed the times the candidates dressed casually.

  4. From my experience, you need to be able to check the box on the big things and demonstrate you’re suitable for the job. Many candidates can do that though so what it comes down to often is how well you got along with others and how well they think you’ll fit into their group from a personality perspective.

    Good post, Finance Solver.

  5. Preparation is key, understanding the expectations of the people you’re going in to interview with. I’ve worked in tech my entire career, and I can tell you the colour of your socks or how you cut your hair couldn’t have mattered less vs your experience and expertise when I conduct interviews. I was a game developer for many years as well, and so I know if you showed up in a suit a lot of people would (and have) failed you on the spot. Understand your audience.

  6. Some great tips! I haven’t had to have an interview myself in almost 6 years but I do occasionally sit in on them as part of hiring and these are definitely things we notice.

  7. Over the years, I’ve done my share of interviewing and I have always put more emphasis on personality, willingness and ability to learn, and overall attitude. These are the things one cannot change about a person.

    In some of the last few interviews, I got the feeling of more entitlement from the new generation than what I was used to seeing.

  8. Hey FS, completely agree that it’s the whole picture that’s important to get right in an interview. You don’t know what they’re looking for, so you have to nail every part of it – including just being you and likeable.


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