Make a Positive First Impression in Your Next Interview
It has been said over and over again, and frankly, because it’s true; you never have a second chance to make a first impression. Everyone knows this on a conceptual level, but there are still times when candidates trip up right off the bat. If you are embarking on a job hunt, here are some ways to help put your best face forward when you secure that big interview.
Get your head right
Mental prep is half the battle in going into an interview, or any first meeting. Short of meditation, take some time to clear your head as best as possible and focus on the kind of impression you would like to make. Think about what excites you about the position, and how to convey that. While it may seem futile, this is a great way to build positive energy – which comes across when meeting people. You’re also more apt to feel confident as a result.
Do your homework
One of the first questions you are likely to be asked in an interview is “what do you know about us?”. Having sat on the hiring side of things, it is troublesome how often people flub this most basic of questions. Why is someone going to want to hire a candidate that doesn’t know anything about the job, or company, that they’re interviewing for? Take some time to review the company’s website before heading to your meeting, and better yet, visit the site at least a couple of times prior (based on how much time you have to prepare). Know when they were founded, if the information is available, and write down at least a couple questions to ask in advance. Something as simple as, “what are qualities an employee needs to succeed in this job?” and “what do you think is the most challenging aspect of the role?” will suffice, and show that you’re really thinking about the opportunity.
It’s always best to err on the overdressed side when heading into an interview. If you’re able to get an idea of what the culture is like beforehand this can be very beneficial in knowing how to gauge your style. Manufacturing and machinery roles will generally be OK with jeans and a nice shirt. Khakis could up the ante if you’d like to dress it up a bit! If the office is a jeans and tee kind of environment, dress pants and a nice top should be sufficient. For business casual or business professional, a suit is the standard and should not be deviated from. Regardless, use it as an opportunity to show a little bit about your personality, whether it be through a pair of statement earrings, a dressy scarf, or your favorite watch. Lastly, make sure that you’re comfortable in whatever you choose to wear. Clothes do make the man/woman, and can have a positive or negative impact on your interview performance.
The standard of arriving 15 minutes early to a meeting still applies. Your timeliness is going to be the very first thing a hiring manager notices about you, and being even a minute or two late can be a tough recover. If you’re unsure of the meeting’s exact location, do a dry run a day or two beforehand and find it. This can save you a lot of unnecessary stress, and give you one less thing to fret about on the big day. When you arrive, you’ll have time to use the bathroom and check for any last minute adjustments (hair in place, food in teeth, etc.). Running your hands under cold water also helps alleviate sweaty palms.
Actions speak louder than words
Firm handshake, good posture, healthy level of eye contact. These are all things that are basic, but important to be mindful of during your interview. Avoid fidgeting and sit tall. Posture has a twofold benefit: not only will you appear more confident and alert, you will also feel it as well! Simply holding yourself in a more commanding stance has been shown to up peoples’ confidence levels. Maintaining eye contact is also important. While you don’t need to take locking eyes to extremes (which can make the interviewer a bit uncomfortable) make sure that you are holding strong eye contact through the majority of the conversation, especially when you are speaking. Diverting your eyes can come off as you being dishonest or insecure.
At the end of the day, the person or persons you’re sitting across from are people just like you, they may even be nervous as well! Just be true to yourself and speak honestly. Trying to sell yourself for a role that simply isn’t you will only bring strife down the road.
Say Thank You!
While this isn’t necessarily part of your actual first impression, sending a simple “Thank You” goes a long way. Hiring managers are often left baffled after meeting a strong candidate that fails to do this most basic of follow ups. It shows that you both appreciate your interviewer’s time, and that you are interested in the position. You can tackle this in a couple of different ways, one being a simple email follow up, ideally the day of the interview or the following morning. Another option – send a handwritten version. Having a tangible card in hand feels special, and the fact that you took the time to hand write and mail it speaks to you as a candidate as well. If you are worried about timeliness, you can always send a quick email followed by the handwritten version that arrives a couple of days later.
Hopefully these pointers will be helpful during your application process! If you are a hiring manager yourself, or your company is looking for qualified candidates, feel free to contact us at Job Brokers and let us know how we can help you find the best talent – and pre-screen some of these very factors on your behalf before even sending a candidate your way. We can be reached at (480) 374-7100 and look forward to hearing from you!