THE BLOG
01/16/2015 11:22 am ET Updated Mar 18, 2015

7 Ways to Appear More Intelligent On a Job Interview

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Either consciously or unconsciously, we tend to make judgments about a person based on first impressions. And the best way to make a positive first impression on a job interview is to embrace uncommon common sense.

If you want to exude confidence and project more intelligence on a job interview, practice the following tips:

  1. Be a good listener. Let the conversation go back and forth, like a tennis match, and listen with genuine interest. When a job interview is one-sided and you talk only about yourself and your accomplishments and don't ask any questions, you'll come across as being nervous, egotistical or self-absorbed. True intelligence entails attentive listening and responding in a way that shows understanding.
  2. Focus on the positive. Resist the urge to bad-mouth your former employer or go on and one about what you didn't like about your last job. Optimism is an aphrodisiac. Keep the conversation light and upbeat. Focus on your experience, what you do well, and what you can contribute to the company. Also avoid talking about controversial topics that pertain to your industry unless the employer brings them up.
  3. Be interested and interesting. Practice your conversation skills by starting off with some small talk. Be observant and comment on what you see in the employer's office or talk about something you have in common. Most people love to talk about family, hobbies and travel. Ask engaging questions. Start your sentences with phrases like, "Tell me," "How do you feel about that," and "What advice would you give." Respond thoughtfully to what the employer is saying.
  4. Maintain good eye contact. One of the strongest and most accurate signs of intelligence is looking at someone when you are speaking to them and when they are speaking to you. It shows respect and lets the other person know you are listening. And don't forget to put your phone on silent. Give the employer your full, undivided attention.
  5. Smile. The smile is the most beautiful curve on the human body. A study in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that smiling makes you more attractive to others. It makes you appear more personable and tells people you are willing to talk and interact with them.
  6. Speak clearly and simply. A positive first impression may be shattered as soon as you try to impress the employer with your massive vocabulary. Pretentious language will only interfere with the other person's ability to understand and communicate with you. Additionally, stay away from filler words including, "like" and "you know," "umm," and "ah." You're better off being silent than using filler words. They can give the impression that you're hesitant to express yourself or you're not sure what you're talking about.
  7. Don't be a Know-it-All. If the employer asks you a question and you don't know the answer, admit it. Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know." Someone who is honest and authentic is more appealing than someone who thinks he has an answer for everything.
For more career tips, visit Jacqueline's blog: www.JacquelineWhitmore.com or "like" her Facebook page.