27 surprising things that affect whether you get hired

Hiring managers typically use your résumé to determine whether you’re qualified for the job, and the interview to decide if you’re the perfect fit.

Knowing that, most people take the process very seriously. They arrive to the interview on time, dress impeccably, and answer each question intelligently.

But as it turns out, there’s more to it than just showing up and doing your best — there are dozens of small details that overtly or subconsciously affect the way you’re perceived.

Vivian Giang contributed additional reporting.

4. Whether your rival also interviews on the same day.


Yes, it may be difficult to know when your rival is interviewing, but if you happen to know, schedule your interview on a different day. Basically, research shows that whether or not you're considered qualified for a position depends on who else is applying for the job.

'People are averse to judging too many applicants high or low on a single day, which creates a bias against people who happen to show up on days with especially strong applicants,' according to a study in the journal Psychological Science.

However, this comparison only lasts for one day, which means that you are only compared to people who are interviewing on the same day as you -- not the day before or after.

5. Whether you feel powerful.

It's not only about being competent and confident, but it's also about whether you feel powerful.

Do you feel like you have the ability to influence others? If you don't, you should try holding yourself in a power pose for two minutes before the interview, advises Harvard professor Amy Cuddy. Practice stances with your arms and elbows out and chin lifted.

According to Cuddy, this will increase your abstract thinking abilities, pain threshold, risk tolerance, and levels of testosterone, the dominant hormone that makes you feel more confident and powerful. Feeling powerful will make you more assertive, accept criticism more gracefully, present more captivating and enthusiastic speeches, and, overall, turn you into a high performer.

You can do these poses in an elevator or even a bathroom stall. Just make sure you're alone so that you can really focus on the change in your body chemistry.

6. What you do while waiting in the lobby.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

'Drinking coffee, eating, or talking on your cell is not the first impression you want to make with the hiring manager -- or the receptionist,' says Taylor. 'You don't know exactly when the interviewer will show up, so be at the ready.'

She suggests keeping one hand free so that you can quickly shake hands without awkwardly placing all your personal items on a chair or on the floor. 'You want to appear organised and attentive.'

'Also, as you wait, either make conversation with the receptionist (if he or she is available to talk), review notes from your notebook, or review any company materials for guests. Maintain a pleasant smile and upbeat demeanour.'

7. How you treat the receptionist or the driver.


Employers want to know how you interact with others regularly, so a common tactic is to ask the receptionist about you later.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he will ask the shuttle driver who picks up candidates whether they were impolite or rude.

'A lot of our job candidates are from out of town, and we'll pick them up from the airport in a Zappos shuttle, give them a tour, and then they will spend the rest of the day interviewing,' Hsieh says. 'At the end of the day of interviews, the recruiter will circle back to the shuttle driver and ask how he or she was treated. It doesn't matter how well the day of interviews went, if our shuttle driver wasn't treated well, then we won't hire that person.'

10. Whether you're a little narcissistic.

Getty/Cindy Ord

Research suggests that narcissists score much higher than others in job interviews, and it's because they're comfortable with self-promoting.

Since narcissists typically think they're fantastic, the interviewer may think so, too.

12. Whether you glance at your watch or cell phone.

As benign as this might seem, people notice when you're peeking at your watch or phone, and you certainly don't want to convey that you're not engaged in the conversation, Taylor explains.

'Even having your cell phone in plain sight is disrespectful. You're not going to text or take calls, so turn it off and put it away. Make sure your hiring manager has your undivided attention.'

16. Your posture.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

'When you're in the interview, your default should be sitting straight and keeping a pleasant smile on your face,' Taylor says.

Avoid slumping in your chair and remember to lean forward, showing interest in the interviewer. 'Even if you feel the discussion is going south, maintain your poise, posture and inflection. That can sometimes help you turn things around.'

19. Where you grew up.

If you spent your childhood in LA and your interviewer did, too, you may have a better chance of landing the job.

It's clearly unfair (and out of your control), but your interviewer may not even be consciously aware that she's biased toward Californians. It's called the similarity-attraction hypothesis: People simply gravitate toward those who are similar to them in some capacity.

There are a few potential explanations for this phenomenon. One is that people with a decent level of self-esteem are satisfied with their personalities, so when they see their qualities reflected in someone else, they like that person, too.

Another idea is that humans have evolved to like people who look and act the way they do. At one point in human history, the safest bet was to only trust people in your small social group.

20. How competent you seem.


Before you roll your eyes at the obviousness of this idea, hear us out. Coming across as super-competent can in some cases hurt your success in an interview.

That's because your interviewer might worry that you'll threaten his status in the organisation. And that's especially true in organisations with highly competitive cultures.

Of course, you should still put your best foot forward in any job interview. If the company doesn't hire you because they feel threatened, you might not want to work there anyway.

21. The sound of your voice.

John Moore/Getty Images

In the near future, some companies may begin analysing candidates' voices to determine if they'd be good fits, according to an NPR report.

Essentially, an algorithm would determine whether your voice is engaging, calming, or trustworthy -- which could be especially important in industries like hospitality and retail.

Humans would have the final say on hiring.

22. Whether you're smiling.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

It's common sense that flashing a smile makes you look friendlier and more approachable.

But recent research suggests that, for certain professions, smiling too much can undermine your success in a job interview.

In the study, researchers asked college students to role-play job interviews. They found that students who played candidates for the position of newspaper reporter, manager, and research assistant were less likely to get the hypothetical job when they smiled -- especially during the middle of the interviews.

23. Your accent.

Research suggests that some employers may discriminate against candidates for executive positions when the candidates have foreign accents. Specifically, the employers may believe that those candidates have less political skill.

This is another example of completely unfair discrimination, and the researchers behind the study say companies should add accent-bias awareness training to existing training programs for hiring managers.

24. Your weight.


Recent experiments suggest that we're less inclined to hire job candidates when they're overweight.

In the study, men and women rated digital resumes that included photographs of non-obese people and digitally altered photographs of those same people as obese. As it turns out, obese candidates were rated significantly less competent than non-obese candidates.

Right now, Michigan is the only state that has a law against weight discrimination -- there's no protection under federal law. But if you feel that weight discrimination has affected your chances of landing a job, you can get in touch with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the American Civil Liberties Union.

25. Whether you have tattoos or piercings.


A Salary.com survey found that some 76% of people say tattoos and piercings hurt a job candidate's chances of getting hired.

Your body art might stand out more in certain fields -- for example, the survey found that just 8% of government workers have tattoos, compared to 20% of those in the hospitality, tourism, and recreation industries.

26. Your body language.


Experts say that, when people like each other, they mirror each other's body posture and movements. In a way, it looks like like the two people are 'dancing.'

If you don't mirror your interviewer's body language, it might seem like you're not interested in what they're saying or even that you're lying.

Obviously, you don't need to go to extremes here -- like scratching your nose every time your interviewer does. But if they're leaning forward in their chair or sitting with their legs crossed, you can subtly mimic these behaviours.

27. How sweaty you are.


Offering a clammy palm to shake the hiring manager's hand is the greatest fear of many a job candidate.

And for good reason -- sweating suggests you're nervous and can undermine the image of cool confidence you're trying to project.

One public relations recruiter tells US News that she recommends asking for a cold cup of water while you're waiting to be called in for your interview. That way, you'll lower your body temperature and stop some of the sweating.

On the other hand, you can just accept that sweating and nervousness are normal in a stressful situation and hope your interviewer feels the same way.

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