First Impressions Are Everything: Why It’s Crucial to Impress in an Interview

It’s true that you only have one chance to make a first impression. In some cases, that first chance only lasts a few seconds. A survey of over 2,000 hiring managers found that 33 percent knew whether or not they would hire someone within the first 90 seconds of meeting them.

What can job seekers do to help themselves stand out and leave a great first impression? Things like attitude and appearance are often overlooked in a job interview, but these things can make or break a candidate. Even if the job seeker is overly qualified for the job on paper, details like running late, being on a cell phone or forgetting basic manners can ruin their chances.

Here are five things job hunters should do in an interview to leave a great first impression:

1. Display confidence with body language

A good attitude and confidence are key to landing a job. Even though a job hunter might feel confident on the inside, their body language could tell a completely different story.

An interview starts the second a job seeker gets to the interview site. Good posture and a calm demeanor are essential whether they’re in the office or the parking lot. Interviewees shouldn’t hunch their shoulders or look down while they’re sitting in a chair waiting. When they do finally meet with the hiring manager, a smile, eye contact and a firm handshake display confidence without being arrogant. Smiling is particularly important, as 40 percent of interviewers think that a lack of a smile is a good enough reason not to consider a candidate.

2. Dress for success

Appearance is crucial, which is why it’s one of our seven foundational workplace skills that workers need to succeed. Make sure the interviewee has an outfit they feel great in and one that matches the dress code of the company. Being over or under-dressed can make one uncomfortable, and hurt a job seekers confidence. Always tell job seekers to keep things simple if they’re not sure what to wear. Don’t over-accessorize or wear anything that might be distracting. They also need to pay attention to details. They might not care that their clothes are wrinkled or their socks don’t match, but these details could be red flags to potential employers.

3. Put phones and electronics away

This one might seem like common sense, but as we know, common sense doesn’t always translate to common practice. You should never be caught talking, texting or even looking at your phone during a job interview. Job searches should also know the consequences of what might happen if their phone goes off in an interview. To avoid any awkward moments, phones and any other electronics should be left in cars or at home during an interview.

 4. Write a handwritten thank you note

With all the technology available to us today, handwritten thank you notes are becoming a lost art. This provides a great opportunity for job seekers, however, to stand out in the interview process. Appreciation is another one of our seven foundational workplace skills, and it starts from the moment a job seeker meets their potential employer. We should encourage job seekers to bring a handwritten thank you note and give it to the hiring manager after the interview is over. They’ll appreciate the effort and the fact that the candidate thought ahead.

5. Treat everyone with respect

Treating people with respect seems like common sense, but some job seekers don’t realize how many employees they encounter when they go through the interview process. It’s important to impress the hiring manager, but job seekers are also likely interacting with many other people at the company as well. Whether they’re a CEO or a receptionist, every person is a chance to make a great first impression and they deserve to be treated respectfully. A negative interaction with anyone at a company could ruin a job seekers chances at employment.

These five tips really boil down to showing appreciation, having a good attitude and putting effort into appearances. To learn more about how these traits (and the rest of our seven foundational workplace skills) help improve the workforce, head to our Bring Your ‘A’ Game curriculum page.

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