“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Or so the old saying goes. It applies when you meet someone new. Remember how you were introduced to your spouse’s college friend and he was really obnoxious? Notice how years later, even if he may have mellowed down a lot, you still think he has it in him to really be repulsive.
Well, the same applies to job interviews. So, if you go to one completely unprepared, don’t be surprised to come across the interviewer in the future and have him think you’re still an inept worker.
Make sure you don’t fall into that trap and make a good first impression every time. Here are 5 tips to help you out.
1. Always dress to impress.
They say dress for the job you want, not the job you have. If you’re aiming for that senior management position, then you can’t show up to the interview wearing a crumpled and crinkly dress shirt, can you?
Create a good impression by wearing a suit and tie if you’re a man. Women should wear a interview-appropriate blouse and skirt or pants. Clean nails are imperative. Oh, and keep jewelry and perfume to a minimum. It’s an interview, not a party.
2. Be on time.
Possibly the worst thing you can do is come late to a job interview. If you are going to run late, then might as well not show up at all, because that is a first impression that screams “unprofessionalism”. Always come 10 to 15 minutes early and use this time to mentally prepare yourself for the interview one last time.
3. Shake hands firmly.
Always shake the hand of your interviewer after the initial greeting is exchanged. If the interviewer doesn’t extend his hand, extend yours anyway. It’s a sign of goodwill. Just make sure you keep a tissue in your pocket, in case you need to wipe your clammy hands if you’re a bit nervous.
4. Have good posture.
Yes, office furniture isn’t always the most comfortable. Do not slouch, regardless! Hunching over and slouching makes you look sloppy at best. At worst, it can convey that you’re not really interested in what you’re interviewing for. So sit up straight.
5. Do your Research.
Prior going to the job interview do your research about the company’s background. Find out the most you can about the company’s history, policy and goals, and by all means research about the job position you’re applying for. By doing this you will be prepared for any question which might arise, as you will already have some knowledge about the company that you can relate to when answering.
6. Avoid fillers.
Peppering your interview answers with “um” and “like” and “ah” won’t make you sound professional. Filler words do a bad job of, well, filling in the dead air. It also highlights how nervous you are about the entire thing. Buy some time before answering by acknowledging the question. Or just speak a bit more slowly. Do not rush so you won’t stumble over your words.
7. Ask questions.
This is something that will make you stand out of the crowd. Most people go to the interview, say hello, answer the questions they are asked, leave their CV (if they haven’t sent it electronically) and go home. Wrong! What they completely forget about is that they too can and should ask questions. Show more initiative. As it was above mentioned, you should do your research about the company and job position, and ask the interviewer if there is something else that you wanted to know, but couldn’t find out. Also, try to ask follow up questions. This display of initiative will show how much you are interested about the position.
8. Say thank you.
Whether you did well or badly, do not just bolt out the door when the interview is over. Instead, thank the interviewer for his time. Shake hands and advice him of your availability in case they want to follow up. When you leave the room, you can let out the breath you’ve been holding for the last hour and congratulate yourself on a job well done.
Job interviews can be very stressful exercises. Even the most seasoned of job seekers can feel the pressure and come in with damp hands and shaky breath. But always try to put your best foot forward. If you want to get the job, you have to make sure that you exert all effort. That starts with an awesome first interview. Good luck!