When going in for your interview, first impressions count. According to various psychological studies, first impressions are formed in a matter of seconds, which gives the interviewer little time to make assumptions about your personality and behavior. To ensure that you start your interview on the right foot and set yourself up for success, keep these tips in mind for the first minutes of your meeting.
Plan Ahead and Arrive Early
The worst thing you can possibly do on the day of an interview is show up late. Arriving on time, but heavily breathing and sweating when you walk through the door, also does not shed the best light in regard to your time management skills. This behavior shows the interviewer that you did not take time to properly plan ahead and that you don’t value the time taken out of their busy day to meet you. Unless your car broke down or some other unpredictable emergency comes up, plan to arrive at least 10-15 minutes early to the interview.
Treat Everyone You Meet with Respect
As essential as it is to impress during the interview, it is just as vital to create a positive first impression with everyone you meet, from the receptionist to employees walking past. You don’t want your interview’s success to be negatively influenced by rudeness to others in the office. Be sure to genuinely treat everyone with respect because you never know how your interactions with them affect your candidacy. Keep in mind that a good first impression will positively affect you in the long run, especially if you are hired at the end of the process.
Make Sure You Look Presentable
Looks are not everything, but when it comes to the interview, others form quick judgments based on your appearance and how you present yourself. It is obviously important to dress appropriately for the occasion, but anything can happen between the time you leave your house and the time you reach the office. Before you go into your meeting, make a quick check of the simple things that can affect your presentation. Does your hair look okay, is there dirt on your pants or shoes, and is your tie or other accessories in place? A quick overview of these last-minute items will ensure your appearance is something you don’t have to worry about as you step into the interview.
Come with Small Talk Topics in Mind
Coming into the interview with “small talk” conversation points in mind is a great way to break the ice and seem more friendly and open. You usually don’t jump right into the official interview when you first sit down, so casual discussion about the weather, how their day is going, etc. makes the process less tense and more relaxed. In addition, stick to neutral conversation topics and stay away from heavier discussions, like religion or politics, to avoid potential conflict and bias.
Have a Firm Handshake
A steady handshake sets precedent for how the interviewer perceives your personality, in those short few seconds. In an article about interview etiquette, Nancy R. Mitchell, an established etiquette consultant and advisor, says, “How you greet people reveals a great deal about you—your confidence, attitude and polish.” It is best to have a firm handshake that shows you are confident and capable. A limp handshake implies that you are potentially insecure and anxious, while a “death-grip” comes off as overbearing and as compensation for something else. Much like how a picture is worth a thousand words, perfecting this small gesture speaks volumes.
Thank Your Interviewer Right Away
The road to the interview can take weeks and sometimes months, so it is crucial to show the interviewer you are grateful for the opportunity to meet them and potentially join the team. When you are first greeting your interviewer or sitting down to start the interview, take a moment to express your gratitude for them meeting with you. A sincere thank you is always appreciated and it reinforces the idea that you are excited to be there.
Throughout the job search process, we worry about things like the format of a resume or potential interview questions, and we forget about the little things that may affect our candidacy. Keep these tips in mind and the impression you create when you walk in and leave the office will resonate with the interviewer and all other employees that cross your patch during all stages of the interview.
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