Three surprising things successful job interview candidates have in common

A new report released last week by the hiring company SmartRecruiters sheds some light on who is more likely to get hired for the job after their interview. Their data was collected from surveys of roughly 2,000 job applicants, some who were successfully hired, and many more who were rejected.

The participants who were successfully hired reported having some surprising things in common.

They wore black

For starters, many of the candidates who landed the job wore black. Fully 70 per cent of the hired candidates say that they were wearing a mostly black outfit to their interview, while only 33 per cent of rejected candidates wore black.

A CareerBuilder survey of over 2,000 hiring managers and HR professionals also found that along with blue, black is one of the safest choices to wear to a job interview. Wearing black is considered particularly appropriate for senior roles, as it is considered an ‘executive color.’ Grey is also considered a safe choice.

The worst colours to wear to your next interview? Yellow, green, purple, and especially orange. Hiring professionals reported finding bright or loud colours to be creative, but less professional for a formal interview.

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t picture a man showing up for a job interview wearing an orange shirt (or pants or jacket.) Anyway, don’t do it. It’s not recommended for women either. Don’t wear orange to a job interview.

They weren’t the best looking

Good looking people didn’t see an advantage in getting hired. 78 per cent of the candidates who got the job rated their physical appearance as “average” or even “slightly unattractive.” Conversely 66 per cent of the rejected candidates rated their physical appearance as “attractive” or “very attractive.”

This contradicts findings from previous studies that found employer callbacks to attractive men were “significantly higher” than for more average-looking men.

That same research found that attractive women also have a slight advantage in landing the job – if their interviewer is a man. Women interviewers are more likely to reject a female candidate they consider to be more attractive than they are.

They stayed on topic, talked about the job and the company

Less surprisingly, more of the candidates surveyed by SmartRecruiters who get the job (63 per cent) reported spending much of the time talking about the employer’s company culture and the functions of the role itself. Fewer of the rejected candidates (47 percent) had similarly focussed discussions with their job interviewer.

Says Jerome Ternynck, Co-Founder and CEO of SmartRecruiters, “Those who reported spending significant portions of the interview learning about the company and the specifics of the job were ultimately those who went on to be hired.”

Small talk at the beginning of an interview can be crucial to breaking the ice and making a positive first impression. You want to appear sociable and easy to talk to. However, once you’re into the heart of the job interview, you don’t want to waste too much time on unrelated chit chat. You need to leave the employer with the solid impression that you are focussed, professional, and excited about the job.

Bottom line: Wear a black or blue suit to your next interview. You should, of course, be well groomed, but you can’t coast on your looks. Research the role and the company and be prepared to talk about how you’d be a good fit with the culture and a successful contributor on the job.

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