The Art of the First Impression

Posted by John Carroll on Friday, August 9, 2013 Under: Job Search
People tend to know the basics of what makes a good first impression on a job interview. You are told time and time again to dress professionally, show up early, and offer a firm handshake. While all of that is very important, it’s also equally important to realize the small habits we do out of comfort and familiarity that may not make the best professional impression.

For starters, it’s extremely important to be aware of your body language when arriving and settling into your first interview. Maintaining good eye contact when you are speaking and smiling and nodding while your interviewer is talking are good ways to engage the hiring manager and show them your interest without even saying a word. Strong eye contact conveys confidence; looking down or over to the side will make you seem too timid or uninterested in the role. Posture and hand movements will convey something you may or may not intend. Always try to maintain great posture, and avoid crossing your arms or doing distracting activities like touching your hair. Try to keep your hands in your lap while the interviewer is speaking, and when it’s your turn to talk, be interactive and involved in the conversation through natural hand movements that go along with your conversation. Basically, be yourself and don’t plan it out, but don’t give into any distracting habits that will take away from your professionalism.

Also be aware of the way you are speaking. Although you definitely want to sell your skills, try not to interrupt the interviewer, and give them a chance to finish speaking before you proceed with your statements. Avoid overusing filler words like “um” and “like”, and make sure your answers are clear and understandable. You can always pause and think for a few seconds after the interviewer asks you a tough question, so that you can decide exactly what you want to say, instead of relying on those filler words to buy some time. Also, make sure your answers are specific. Avoid vague phrases like “I am very results-driven,” and instead tell them exactly when you produced results and what those results were. Avoid talking into the floor or mumbling; if the interviewer can’t understand you, they will assume you lack a strong set of communication skills, so always speak clearly and confidently.

Finally, be yourself and have a little bit of fun—in the most professional way possible, of course. Be sure to build some rapport with the interviewer. Ask them their favorite part about working at the company, or try to find some common ground through talking about a big event over the weekend, the weather, or using another good conversation starter. Since you are speaking to a potential coworker, someone you will be spending a lot of time with, you want to show them all of your other great personality traits along with your professional skills.

Follow this advice and you’ll ace your first interview!

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In : Job Search 

Tags: candidate "interview tip"