Making a good first impression is a lot of pressure, especially when a career opportunity is on the line. Interviewing is competitive for even the best of candidates. The following 5 actions are essential for creating an initial positive impression when arriving for an interview. Incorporating these tips will help you make a strong impact, and give you a base from which you can wow the interviewer with your personality, past experience, and knowledge of the company.
1) Be early, but not too early
It’s standard to arrive about ten minutes early to an interview. You don’t want to be much earlier, as your interviewer might be caught off guard while they are busy wrapping up other things.
The best option is to aim to get to the area the business is in early, just in case traffic or something unexpected delays you. Use any additional time to scope out the area and review any notes on the company or specific questions you might be expecting. Plan to arrive at the building around 10 minutes prior to the interview start time, to give yourself time to deal with any entry procedures such as signing in at the security desk.
2) Dress up
Show up professionally dressed for the first impression and for every other interaction after that. Suits, slacks, blouses, blazers. Show up at least in business professional attire. This is something standard one should do for every interview--it’s expected.
Interviews make everyone nervous. For some individuals, nerves show in their face. Focus on acting confidently and being charismatic, and try to smile when you initially meet your interviewer. During my time interviewing candidates, I would get greeted with a stone cold expression only to realize--later in the interview, after I made them feel more comfortable--that nerves had completely changed their demeanor. Showing a positive and happy version of yourself initially creates a stronger first impression and could help set you apart from other candidates who have let their nerves take over. Even if you’re terrified, fake it until you make it!
4) Give a strong, confident handshake
This is a physical way to show your confidence and enthusiasm, as long as you don't get over-zealous or try to crush your interviewer's hand. It might seem like a minor thing, but a strong, confident handshake always comes across better than a weak, flimsy one.
5) Have multiple copies of your resume
This is an easy way to make yourself appear prepared for anything. Arriving with multiple resume copies looks professional, organized, and shows that you are thinking ahead. Print them off on nice paper and have them stored professionally (don’t pull them out of a torn folder in your backpack). You never know who the person interviewing you might want to pass one on to, or if you’ll have multiple interviews that same day depending on how the first one goes.
Preparation is key
Of course, there are other steps that interviewees can take to prepare for an interview, such as preparing for standard questions and familiarizing themselves with the company. Understanding the company’s history and mission statement will be helpful in giving a candidate a leg up, and will help you to feel confident heading into the interview—which will also help when it comes to making a positive first impression.
If an interviewer wants to learn about your emotional intelligence, she could ask you a series of questions about your past behavior—so-called behavioral questions. Alternatively, she could spend a significant portion of the interview acting like a total jerk and letting your actions speak for themselves.
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