The Job Interview: Make a Great First Impression!
Think back to the first time you met someone. Perhaps you are now lifelong friends or maybe you never spoke again after that introduction. Either way, you had a first impression – good or bad. Most of us have made an unfavorable first impression at one time or another. With neighbors and colleagues, the opportunity to change that perception will likely present itself and we can take comfort in knowing there is a second chance. When a bad impression is made during a job interview, however, it is more difficult to “get it right” the next time. Often, the damage is done. There is no “next time.”
Be mindful of the fact that first impressions do matter and take these steps to present yourself in the best possible light.
Be personable from the minute you enter the office building until you exit. Every personal interaction matters, whether that is with someone on the elevator or the receptionist at the front desk. You never know who you are talking to so be pleasant and cordial with everyone you meet.
Don’t Be Late
“If you’re early, you’re on time; if you’re on time, you’re late.” Punctuality is important. It conveys organization, interest in the position, a commitment to being there and professionalism. So arrive early for your appointment. If you are running late, call the interviewer as soon as possible to let them know. Do not show up late and apologize for the tardiness after the interview.
Dress the Part
Dress professionally for any meeting or interview with a future employer. If the office environment and attire is more casual throughout, dress a bit more formally but don’t go overboard. Avoid standing out in dark suit if everyone else is wearing jeans. Your goal is to demonstrate that you can fit in with their culture.
Show a genuine interest in the position by asking thoughtful, insightful questions. Answer questions with sincerity and with responses that illustrate your strengths. Maintain eye contact, smile and be yourself.
Put Your Phone Away
It goes without saying that your cellphone should be nowhere in sight during a job interview. It belongs tucked away and turned off. Even if it is set to “silent” mode, the vibration from an incoming text can ruin an interview. While you are waiting in the reception area, resist the temptation to pass the time by scrolling on your phone for emails or reading the news. Use this time to prepare mentally for the interview, going over your qualifications and questions to ask. When the hiring manager comes to greet you, you will be ready with a firm handshake and a smile – not scrambling to finish a text and dropping your phone on the floor.
Make a Connection
After introductions and before the formal interview begins, make a personal connection. Look around the office for something small that can serve as a conversation starter. This can be a photo from a familiar destination (as in “I see you have a picture of Bar Harbor…I vacationed in Maine last summer”) or can be more general (“How long have you lived here? I moved here three years ago and I love the summer weather.”) It does not have to be a major connection — just something small to break the ice, get you talking and put both of you at ease.