You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Research by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov reveals that all it takes is a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from his face, and that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions (although they might boost your confidence in your own judgments).
From your handshake to your knowledge of the potential employer, everything you do and say is scrutinized by an interviewer – from the instant he lays eyes on you.
Are you doing everything you can to create a positive first impression?
Fair or unfair, an interviewer sizes up you and your abilities within the first few minutes of meeting you. In fact, the more experienced he is, the more likely he is to draw conclusions about you based on limited information. So whether you call them hunches, first impressions or simple intuition, an interviewer’s snap decisions are critical to the success of your job search. To land the job you want, use these tips to make a great first impression:
Do your homework. Spend a good amount of time before the interview date researching the employer. Their company website is a great place to start. Don’t just skim through the information – really read it. Find out everything you can about the organization’s history, mission, lines of business and key personnel.
Next, Google the company and find out what others have written or said about them. Check newspapers, business magazines or other reputable sources to further educate yourself. When you finally head into your interview, you’ll have an additional level of knowledge and confidence that will shine through – and keep from looking like a “deer in the headlights” if the interviewer asks you to tell him what you know about the company.
Remember that actions speak louder than words. The nonverbal cues you send from the moment you walk into an interview are scrutinized. Pay careful attention to your posture, handshake and eye contact to create a positive first impression.
Come prepared. Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes. What would you think of a candidate who had to ask for a pen, or who rifled through a cluttered briefcase to dig out a wrinkled résumé? Have a crisp copy of your résumé and references, a pen and notepad for notes, and your portfolio (if applicable) organized and ready to go. Doing so will allow you to hit the ground running and immediately focus on the interviewer.
Avoid common interview mistakes. To succeed in your job search, you need to back up your skills and experience with a first impression that leaves no doubt that you’re the right person for the job. Arrogance and sloppy attire are mistakes you simply cannot afford to make. Be confident, but make sure you’re not cocky. Overconfidence could be misconstrued as indifference – suggesting you could take or leave a job offer. Similarly, you should dress for interview success. Failure to do so could convey that you don’t really care about the job opportunity enough to dress appropriately.
Ask only relevant questions. Show the interviewer that you’ve done your homework by preparing a few questions pertinent to the job or the company (use the research you’ve conducted to help you generate ideas). If they’re answered during the course of the interview, don’t feel pressured to make up new ones on the spot. Throw-away questions won’t impress an interviewer – they’ll only end the conversation on a down note.
Thank the interviewer. Expressing thanks is one of those “pivotal moments” an interviewer may hang his hat on. So without fail, thank the interviewer for his time both at the beginning and the end of your conversation. Tell him that you’re excited about the opportunity. Positive emotion and good manners go a long way toward creating a lasting favorable impression.
Ask for the job. Good salespeople ask for the sale; good job seekers should ask for the job. Beyond thanking the interviewer, say, “I would really love to work here.” This sounds simple, but so many candidates fail to do it!
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