Why first impressions count in a job interview. Tips on how to help you secure a new role
First impressions count in a job interview. You never get a second change to make a first impression and this is never truer than when trying to secure a new job.
Did you know that it only takes less than 30 seconds for a potential employer to form an opinion of you? So you have to start selling yourself immediately.
Your body language will have a vital impact on how your interviewer will see you and so it is so important to get this right from the start of the interview. Just by walking through the door you are being judged even before you have sat down to commence the interview.
Below are tips on how to make a great first impression and help you secure a new role.
Do the following to create a good first impression in a job interview
Be pleasant to the Receptionist
When you arrive at the interview make sure you are smiling and confident and say hello to the receptionist. Remember you are being watched from the moment you arrive. You do not know who else is in the reception area. Did you know that there are instances where some recruiters will watch from the office before a candidate arrives to see how their body language changes? The first impression in a job interview starts the moment you walk in to the reception area. So be aware of your surroundings at all time.
Be confident when you walk into the room.
Walking into the room you should look as professional as possible. Make sure prior to the interview you have chosen the correct interview attire and that anything you are wearing is smart and comfortable. You do not want to be thinking ‘are they looking at the stain on my shirt which I am trying to hide’
Make sure outwardly you are smiling (even if you are very nervous). Smile and nod at the appropriate times during the interview. They are looking to see if you are good fit for the company and you want to show you have a good personality and paying attention to what is being said. Make sure your keep a focus on your tone of voice which should be even and polite. If your voice is too soft it can indicate you are not confident. Too loud and it can appear arrogant. A good smile will make you more likeable.
For me this is an excellent indicator that the interviewer is warming to you. You can form an immediate connection with the interviewer by matching their positive body language.
However, do make sure this is not too obvious.
A good handshake is always a good indicator. Mare sure the handshake is firm as to firm shows arrogance and too weak can indicate you are not a confident person.
Make sure you keep the focus on the interview. Your expression should indicate interest and your posture should be confident
Make Eye Contact
Making good eye contact is one clear way to show you are paying attention in the interview and this will show you are not intimidated. Always hold your eye contact with the interviewer for a few seconds. If you are faced with a panel of people try to make eye contact with all of them. Make sure you address the person who has asked the question and then try to hold eye contact with the rest of the panel for a few seconds before returning your attention the person that has asked the original question.
Try to maintain eye contact with each person for around 10 seconds at a time. If you feel uncomfortable hen try to look away for a few seconds or even try looking at their nose.
Know your interviewer’s name
Make sure you get the name right of your interviewer especially if you are meeting someone with a strange sounding name.
You can research the names and titles of the people you are interviewing by looking on LinkedIn or if you cannot find the names on LinkedIn ask HR prior to the interview. Otherwise your interviewer may need to repeat their name during the face to face.
Use your hands.
By keeping your palms facing up means you are open and honest. Try to always keep them in your lap.
Make sure your arms are uncrossed and your hands are away from your face. – Did you know that touching your nose or ear can indicate you are lying?
All of your personal gestures must be open and expressive.
If you find your hands are a major problem with gesturing then ask (before the interview) if you could take notes during the interview as this will indicate that you are paying attention and will also keep your hands occupied.
Sit up straight
Unless you have a bad back then make sure you sit up straight by keeping the small of your back against a chair. Try to also keep your legs straight and still. You can lean forward occasionally as this will show to the interviewer that you are listening.
Do not do the following as you will not make a good first impression in a job interview
Moan to the receptionist
Never be rude to the receptionist. She/He could be asked to give feedback after the interview of how you were in reception. So do not moan that you have been kept waiting for more than 5 minutes and do not use your mobile phone in reception prior to the interview and a big no-no is not to take calls from other recruiters while in reception. Sometimes the interviewer will be running late and the receptionist will tell you. Never moan just say ‘No problem I am happy to wait’
Never be over-confident
No one likes a show off!
Offer a weak handshake
A weak handshake can show a lack of confidence and also can be very awkward. Especially if the other person offers a firm hand shake. Always try to mirror the interviewer’s handshake and make sure you apply the same amount of pressure. Hi Fives are totally out of the question!
Leave your mobile phone switched on
The last thing you want when being interviewed is to hear your mobile phone ringing. It not only can be annoying and you can lose your train of thought but disrespectful to the interviewer as it shows a lack of care. If you are waiting for a very urgent call then leave your mobile with reception and they can contact you should you need to take the call but mention this to the interviewer in case you do get interrupted.
Of course you will be nervous in an interview (that is good as it shows you want the role) but try to stay still in your chair. If you are constantly moving your feet or keep changing position in your seat (unless the seat is v uncomfortable!) this will put the interviewer off.
Touching your face
It has been said that if you play with your hair or keep touching or rubbing your nose this is an indication of being dishonest or even untrustworthy. Two things an employer does not want in their Company.
Having bad posture can indicate that you are feeling board and not interested in the role being discussed. Also try to avoid crossing your arms and legs as this can come across as defensive and can mean you are closing yourself off from the situation.
Do not clench your fists or wave your hands around as this can show you are nervous. Also do not bite your nails as not only will it show your nerves it also looks disgusting!
Staring at the interviewer
Yes you must maintain eye contact but not so much as you scare the interviewers.
Other No Nos
You will not make a good first impression in a job interview if you have the following:-
Having bad body odour
Having visible tattoos – while some employers have no issue with them it is best to cover them up during your first interview (unless you are having an interview at a tattoo studio!)
Having a hangover
Finally…. You may have created the right first impressions but this must be demonstrated by your performance during the interview and making sure you have done your homework on the Company beforehand.
If you dress for the role you want and have some confidence then you should be able to make that great first impression with your new potential employer. Remember the first impression could be the deciding factor between you and another candidate.