5 Ways To Appear Smart in Your Next Job Interview

Interviewing is an art as much as it is a science. The idea is to impress your interviewers, and one of the best ways to do that is by appearing as competent as possible in the interview.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to study for hours before an interview. You don’t need to know the ins and outs of the company and its year-to-year sales history. It's not that type of intelligence. No, acing an interview is about emotional smarts.

The best interviewers know how to answer questions clearly. They practice their answers but don’t memorize them and ask intelligent questions at the end of the interview. These basic interviewing techniques work to get a lot of people their dream jobs.

Here are five ways to appear smart in your next job interview.

#1: Ask Smart Questions

The questions you ask in an interview are more important than you might think. Good questions signal to your interviewers you’re an active participant in the interview process and are taking it seriously. However, not all questions are good questions.

For instance, asking a question that can be quickly answered via a Google search isn’t a good question. Good questions are those that dig deeper into the job opportunity.

For instance, here are five good questions to ask during your interview:

  1. Who would I be reporting to in this position?
  2. Can you tell me about the team I would be working with?
  3. What are the promotional opportunities for this position?
  4. What training programs are available for employees here?
  5. Are there any metrics that my performance will be measured against?

#2: Use Stories To Describe Experiences

Instead of describing your experience by saying, “I have experience with this,” try to use the art of storytelling as you describe your experience. For instance, have a couple of stories about struggles you encountered in the past and how you overcame them. Your interviewers might ask how you would handle a difficult situation, and using a story from your past is a great way to answer this question.

Harvard Business Review reports, “With the right narrative, you can make anyone you want to feel great – about you.” The best storytellers combine their opinions with concrete evidence, making the story interesting and persuasive.

Don’t give dry “yes or no” answers. Instead, tell stories.

#3: Play the “I Didn’t Feel Challenged” Card

You’ll often be asked why you want to work there during the interview. Answers like, “Because I need a job” or “Because this place looks interesting” aren’t good. Instead, try to answer this question by describing your current role and challenges.

In other words, describe how your current role isn’t challenging you enough.

Interviewers like hearing these types of answers because it means you actively want to be challenged. You don’t want to sit and do nothing. But remember, this is not an opportunity to bad-mouth your previous employer. Doing that can backfire. Instead, this is your chance to explain that your talents are underutilized and you’re capable of much more.

This will go a long way with your interviewers. Just be prepared to back it up if they begin asking you questions about your current job responsibilities.

#4: Speak Simply (Don’t Try to Sound Smart)

This might sound counterintuitive, but don’t try to sound smart by using big words or taking several minutes to give a simple answer. Instead, always simplify your answers as much as you can. Your interviewers will appreciate that, trust me.

For instance, instead of saying, “I have ten years of experience working with complex programming languages like C++ and persevered through challenges by putting in a lot of additional hours to improve my understanding of the technology,” just say something like, “I have ten years of experience with C++, and I’m confident I can succeed in any project.” The second answer uses fewer words and is much more straightforward.

Your interviewers have interviewed a lot of candidates. They know a long-winded answer when they hear one. So you won’t fool them by using a lot of meaningless words. On the other hand, you will impress them by using fewer words and answering questions as clearly and succinctly as possible.

#5: Don’t Over-practice

While it is a good idea to know what you will say in the interview, you also don’t want your answers to come across as scripted or rehearsed.

Know what you want to say and have talking points memorized. However, it’s generally not necessary to memorize complete answers word-for-word. Allow some room to tailor your answer based on how the interview is going. If the interview isn’t going as well as you hoped, you might want to reiterate your experience with particular skills or software products they are looking for in your role. Have talking points, but don’t memorize complete answers.

Remember that you’re not giving a presentation here. You’re answering questions from your interviewers. The more natural you are, the better your chances of getting a job offer or callback for another interview.

More Articles From the Wealth of Geeks Network:

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.


Steve Adcock is an early retiree who writes about mental toughness, financial independence and how to get the most out of your life and career. As a regular contributor to The Ladders, CBS MarketWatch and CNBC, Adcock maintains a rare and exclusive voice as a career expert, consistently offering actionable counseling to thousands of readers who want to level-up their lives, careers, and freedom. Adcock's main areas of coverage include money, personal finance, lifestyle, and digital nomad advice. Steve lives in a 100% off-grid solar home in the middle of the Arizona desert and writes on his own website at SteveAdcock.us.