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Making a great first impression in the interview - September 30th, 2014

You never get a SECOND chance to make a great FIRST impression.

Making a great first impression in the job interview is an absolute must.   When it comes to interviews, there are no “do-overs” like there were when you were a kid on the playground.

Most people think you’ve got about two minutes to make that great first impression, but that’s only true for when you show up.

Actually, the first impression starts before that.

Before you ever get there, here are three things you can do to make their anticipation level rise:

1.  Be business-like when fielding the call. Thank them for their interest in you as a candidate, ask how much time they’re putting aside for your interview (so you can prepare fully), and ask if there is anything they want you to bring.

2.  Send a confirming email. Do this immediately after the call. No explanation needed, right?

3.  Call the day before to confirm. Even if you get their voice mail or assistant, leave a message.

 

And now – it’s show time!

1.  Be on time. There is no excuse for being late, not even if you have a good excuse! Being on time means following the “10-10 Rule: If you’re on time, you’re 10 minutes late; if you’re 10 minutes early you’re on time.” Leave room for traffic or commuting time – or whatever. Just be on time!

2.  Be yourself and be relaxed. If you’re prepared and well-rested, this should be no problem. The more natural and at-ease you are, the more so they will be as well. This has as much to do with your first impression as anything you say in the interview.

3.  Dress appropriately. This means, for the most part, conservatively. Unless you’re going for a modeling job, quiet clothes are always in order; little or no jewelry (both men and women) trumps showy stuff; and forget about the perfume. This is an interview, not a date, and besides, if the interviewer is allergic to perfume, you’re done.

4.  Smile warmly. But don’t overdo it. Grinning your face off with a phony smile is just the easiest thing to detect. But a sincere smile wins every time.

5.  Make and maintain eye contact. No eye contact, no offer. Of that you can be sure. Can’t look at me? I can’t trust you – or hire you.

6.  Shake hands like you mean it. Neither the dead fish nor the bone crusher will do you well. Firm, that’s all.

7.  What you DON’T say is as important as what you DO say. Body language speaks volumes. Posture matters; sit up straight and lean ever-so-slightly forward. Avoid crossing your legs. Don’t fidget, wiggle your feet, play with your pen, twirl your hair, cross your arms over your chest, or be too stiff.

8.  Be positive. No negative comments about your former boss, job, or co-workers. State your answers in positive terms. Use positive language. Highlight your accomplishments. Remember: people hire positive people.

9.  Listen with your eyes as well as your ears. Watch as you listen. You’ll pick up so many clues as to how they’re perceiving you, when they’re done talking, and so forth. Be attentive at all times.

10.  Mom was right, wasn’t she? Aren’t these nothing more than the things Mom taught you about manners and commons sense? That’s all there is to it.

Career Coach Eli Amdur conducts workshops and one-on-one coaching in Job Search, Career Planning, Resumes, and Interviewing. Reach him at eli.amdur@amdurcoaching.com.