How to Make a Great First Impression at the Interview

It takes just seven seconds for someone to evaluate you when they first meet you.

In this short amount of time the other person will form an opinion about you based on your appearance, body language, demeanour, mannerisms and how you are dressed.

These first impressions are very hard to reverse or undo and that is why it is crucial to know and understand how to create a good first impression at interview. This article will provide you with some useful tips to help you achieve this:

Getting off to a good start:

Everyday, unexpected things happen which set us behind on our planned schedule (e.g. traffic congestion, road works, bad weather, accidents and not being able to find your keys). That’s why we always tell our candidates not to be on time for a job interview but to be there half an hour before their allotted interview slot.

Being late to an interview creates a bad first impression as you will not have time to collect your thoughts. There is also a very good chance that you will come across as apprehensive, disorganized and unreliable, whereas if you arrive with plenty of time to spare, you will be able to get in the right state of mind so that you are fully prepared and ready to walk through the employer’s front door five minutes before your appointment time.

Arriving early will allow you to present yourself as a poised, polished and prepared professional which will help you get off to a good start and ultimately make a positive first impression.

A picture is worth a thousand words:

The ‘picture’ you choose to present to your prospective employer at interview through your physical appearance will go a long way in telling them about who you are as a person. When you’re deciding what to wear, you should take into consideration the culture of the company you’re interviewing with and dress accordingly. Appropriateness is the most important factor on what to wear to a job interview. The key is to wear something that you’re comfortable in and that makes you feel great, but at the same time corresponds with the dress code of the company.

It is also important to be properly groomed when going to an interview as this is an indication to the interviewer that you pay attention to detail and that you take care of yourself. If you don’t take the time to look after your own personal hygiene or dress appropriately an employer may think that you will not make an effort as an employee. Pay attention to small details – ironing your clothes and shining your shoes can go a long way.

As a general rule of thumb if you’re unsure of how to portray yourself at interview imagine you are meeting with one of the prospective company’s clients and present yourself accordingly.

RELATED: What NOT to Wear to Your Next Job Interview

Smile and the world smiles too:

As well as your appearance, body language speaks much louder than words. When you’re in an interview setting, use your body language to your advantage to project appropriate confidence and self-assurance.

Smiling can be utilised effectively when you first meet the interviewer as it helps to break down any barriers by showing them that you’re pleased to meet them, and that you are a friendly and approachable person. However you should be careful not to go overboard and smile too much as this may come across as insincere. A firm handshake when greeting shows confidence and is preferable over a limp handshake, which can indicate to someone that you’re not interested in building rapport with them.

Posture is important, standing tall will make you appear open, confident and approachable; slouching makes you look closed, insecure and unapproachable. Maintaining a healthy level of eye contact when communicating is also crucial as it expresses that you are interested and paying attention to what the interviewer is saying. Prolonged eye contact can feel threatening but frequent breaks in eye contact may indicate that you’re uncomfortable or distracted.

Smiling is often described as contagious because when someone smiles at you more often than not you will naturally smile back at them.

Be yourself, be at ease:

It goes without saying that most people are nervous when it comes to interviews. This can be a benefit because it shows that you care about the role you’re being interviewed for.

In some cases, if you are feeling uncomfortable and on edge you can inadvertently make the person who is interviewing you feel ill at ease too and this can create a bad impression. That is why it is important to try and be yourself – remaining calm and confident when you’re interviewing for a position will make the interviewer feel more at ease and create a solid foundation for making that first impression a good one.

A great way to keep your nerves in check is to project a positive attitude, strive to learn from your meeting and contribute appropriately. Trying to be more aware of your bad habits is also an excellent way of understanding how to control these minor faults better in the future.

Finally, it goes without saying that good manners alongside attentive and courteous behaviour help to make a good first impression. You should turn off your mobile phone before you have your interview to minimise disturbances or distractions when speaking to your prospective employer.

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