Making That Great First Impression

The first step to nailing an interview is making a great first impression.

When you go to an interview, your first impression will have a lasting impact on whether you get the job or not. In many cases, your candidacy is decided long before the interview ends. That is why first impressions are incredibly important. You want to come off as confident, knowledgeable, polite, and eager. But you don’t want to seem cocky, over-eager or nervous. It can be hard to make sure that your first impression is not only a lasting one, but a good one. This is why it’s always a good idea to study and prepare before the interview.

Dress appropriately.

The first thing you want to make sure of is that your clothing is on par. You should be dressing for the job you want—which should be the job you are interviewing for. If you are unsure of how to dress, business-wear is always the go-to answer. Wear nice pants, not jeans. Wear a button up shirt with a tie. If you’re a woman, a pant suit or appropriate skirt would work nicely. Make sure that you are hygienic, your hair is brushed or combed, you don’t have bad breath, your nails are clean, etc. These are all things that will be taken into consideration when it comes to a first impression.

Be timely.

You want to show up to your interview on time. However, on time does not mean the exact time the interview is supposed to start. This may seem like you are rushing or do not understand proper interview protocol. You want to arrive to your interview around fifteen minutes early. This way you can seem punctual and prepared for the interview, as well as give yourself a few minutes to sit down and relax. You also don’t want to arrive to an interview too early. If you arrive too early, the company may feel like they have to cater to you or keep you occupied. In turn, this could lead to annoyance that will negatively affect your chances.

Shake hands.

You always want to acknowledge the interviewer in some way. The most common, as well as most appropriate, way to do this, is to shake hands. Offer a firm grasp, as well as exchange those first greetings. Ask the interviewer how his day is going, or introduce yourself. If the interviewer doesn’t extend his hand first for a handshake, don’t worry! Just extend your arm anyway, and let him follow.

Be prepared.

There is no impression quite as bad as showing up frazzled and unprepared. Prove that you can put in time to do the research. Show up with a basic understanding of the company and what they do. Prepare questions that you’d like answered. Not only does this make an amazing first impression, but it is also likely to help show your interest in the company and in the position.

Be kind to everyone.

When you are going to an interview, you are not just trying to impress the person conducting the interview. You should be on your very best behavior with all company employees. This could mean everyone from the parking attendant, secretary, security officers, or anyone else you may encounter. You never know who is watching, or who might report your behavior back to the hiring manager.

Draw connections.

A good way to start off on a good foot is to find common ground with the interviewer. This is a very simple version of small talk that will start the interview off on a positive note. When you are taken to the interviewer’s office, take a look around. Notice a degree on the wall? You could talk about how you or a family member attended that school, as well. Or a simple, “Oh, I see you like the Yankees, too!” It doesn’t have to be a major connection—just something small to put you both in the right frame of mind.

Speak confidently.

When you are talking during the interview, be very conscious of what you are saying. You want to avoid filler words as much as possible. Filler words are: “um”, “like”, “uh”. If you are having trouble responding to something that’s been asking of you, there are tactics you can utilize to buy some time. Repeat the question to yourself, as if you are contemplating the answer. Ask for a glass of water. Ask a question of your own.

Know the interviewer.

A lot of times, pre-interview, you are told who will be conducting the interview. Use this knowledge to your advantage! Coming in to the interview right off the bat and knowing your interviews name will win you points in the first impression stage. If the interviewer has articles published, read up on them. Something as simple as knowing how to pronounce the interviewers name could lead to them being impressed.

Michelle Hawley

Michelle Hawley Michelle Hawley is a writer, blogger and Point Park University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. She focuses mainly on career and marketing topics, as well as funny quips about cats. She enjoys writing fictional stories in her free time.

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