It takes just seconds to form a first impression, and a first impression at a job interview happens just as quickly. Since it’s so much easier when you start off strong, focus on making a good impression in those first few moments of the interview. That’s while you’re waiting in the reception area, while you’re walking to the office or conference room, while you make small talk right before the first question. Here are five qualities you want to convey right from the start to make a good impression at a job interview:
Sit with good posture in the waiting area for your job interview. Have your personal items (coat, bag, folder) neatly organised and easily accessible for a quick transition when you’re called in. When the interviewer comes out to greet you, you want to appear put-together. You want to move with ease, not in a dishevelled, clumsy fashion.
Then you shake hands and greet your interviewer. Is your handshake firm? Do you make direct eye contact? You want to project confidence, even if you’re nervous.
You also want to smile and project enthusiasm. Ensure your demeanour says that you want to be there. You’re excited to meet this interviewer and discuss the role, the company, the future together. Positive energy goes a long way in establishing a positive impression.
As you make your way to the job interview room, the light conversation you exchange is a great opportunity to develop rapport. In an interview, there is no such thing as small talk. If the interviewer asks about upcoming weekend plans, talk about a hobby or personal interest of yours that you pursue in your free time. You might not have specific plans for those interests this weekend, but you don’t have to answer this question so literally. Don’t talk about errands to run, and certainly don’t say you have no plans! People want to work with people they like, and small talk is an opportunity to be sociable and therefore more likeable.
Finally, you take your seat for the job interview. You keep your good posture, direct eye contact, and enthusiastic smile. With the first question (typically “Tell me about yourself”) you have a structured, concise and clear story for your interviewer. Be focused and do not ramble. Establish from the start that you are a good communicator.
Of course, the interview will continue with more questions, and some may be difficult to answer or something you didn’t prepare. But at the very least, you have started off strong by just being mindful and deliberate about what you project in those immediate few minutes right at the start of your job interview.
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