The very best scientifically-backed interview hacks from career experts

Preparing for any job interview is a stressful task.

After ensuring you have the most recent comprehensive resume, written down specific talking points to bring up with the hiring manager, and put together a confidence-boosting ensemble to give a great first impression as soon as you walk through the door — or join the Zoom meeting this year — here are some tips to have the best interview of your career.

This recent brief fields a variety of career experts and psychologists lending veteran advice to those nervous about that big interview. Susan Krauss Whitbourne teaches psychology at the University of Amherst and says one of the most important ways to prepare for a killer interview is to go into it with “a performance mindset—one that’s not too nervous but not too relaxed.” Try these 5 simple things to guarantee gainful employment.

Get yourself in the “interview zone” with these priming tricks recommended by Whitbourne and her colleagues.

Mind over matter

Half the battle of preparing for any daunting task to tackle in your life requires getting yourself in the right headspace for it. American author William Arthur Ward says, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”

1. Manifest a positive interview with magical thinking

This self-help technique is often attributed to and championed by, celebrated public figure Tony Robbins. Magical thinking is visualizing all the ways in which the interview will go swimmingly before you even go into the hiring manager’s office.

The more you believe the outcome of the interview will be a good one, based on the mock successful interview in your head, the more likely that will be the case. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, the professor of psychology mentioned earlier adds, “Positive imagery is a tool for boosting self-efficacy or your belief that you can succeed at a given task.”

2. Ask follow-up questions

While it’s important to be aware and prepared for the types of questions usually asked in an interview it’s equally important to ask the right questions in return. This shows that you have a vested interest in the company and you’d like to learn more to see where you’d fit in best. This is an invaluable technique that works for several reasons namely this one.

“As a candidate, you can ask a question, listen to the answer, and then ask a follow-up question, you will signal what researchers call a strong responsiveness, a concept that includes curiosity, understanding, validation, and care—all things that will make you more appealing as a potential hire,” according to Harvard Business School professor Alison Brooks.

3. Reframe your pre-interview nerves as excitement instead

A big upcoming interview can be terrifying especially if getting that job can significantly improve your quality of life. Public speaking is rated number 1 as far as irrational fears go for humans. How can you harness that nervous energy and turn it into unbridled enthusiasm instead? One way to trick your brain into believing your accelerated heart rate is due to excitement and not abject panic is to physically say out loud to yourself, “I am so pumped to start this interview and meet my future boss!” Alison Brooks explains the superpower behind positive self-talk, “Verbally labeling your emotions is a powerful way to change how you actually feel.”

4. Engage in stress-busting rituals prior to the interview

Everyone has a go-to method for relieving stress. This could be blasting upbeat music while you do a silly dance, meditating for 10 minutes, or eating a nourishing brain-boosting snack. When we begin to refocus our nervous energy and release it through positive coping methods and rituals that bring us joy this helps calm our nerves before a significantly stressful event.

Brooks backs up the following claims for creating your own stress-reducing ritual, “Rituals have also been found to enhance physical and mental readiness, increase a feeling of control, and actually reduce the elevated heart rate associated with pre-performance anxiety.”

5. Hold a mock interview with a close friend to hone your humble bragging skills

Some folks struggle to highlight their strengths for fear of coming off narcissistic. It’s important not to hold back on why your specific skills and experience would be invaluable for the company you applied to. The President at BigInterview.com, Pamella Skillings, recommends reaching out to friends and family to formulate a list of at least 5 of your best selling points.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to old bosses and co-workers to ask them what they felt your best qualities on the job were. Rehearse these selling points in a mock Zoom interview with close friends and family before the real interview is scheduled.

If you have the references to back up those hirable qualities it can only improve your chances of getting hired since you have a marked history of being an irreplaceable member of the team at prior companies you worked for.