First impression matters (and how to make a good one)
"You only get one chance to make a first impression." No doubt you are familiar with this old adage. And while experts don't all agree as to how long it takes to form a first impression – some suggest 30 seconds, many believe it to take 2-3 seconds and yet others think it takes milliseconds – what is clear is that it's pretty quick.
More importantly, all agree that first impressions matter. What's more, research has shown that we tend to stick with those first impressions even after we have spent more time with a person. Certainly, it's an uphill task to reverse a negative first impression although you may get some success over time.
Sadly, you don't have the luxury of time on your side when it comes to making the right first impressions at a job interview.
So, now you know what's at stake, you have a lot to pack into those first few seconds! Here are six top tips for making the right first impressions at your next job interview:
- Look the part – always opt for smart. No jeans or chinos and trainers. If in doubt, choose formal.
- Smile – a smile goes a long way! It suggests friendliness, openness and can certainly help to dissipate nerves (on both sides!)
- Introduce yourself – speaking clearly, introduce yourself (to all interviewers and not just the main person), remembering to shake everyone's hand
- Exude confidence – it's pretty normal to be nervous but try not showing your anxiety. It's certainly worth taking a few minutes and some deep breaths before entering the building. Adopt confident body language and sit up straight
- Be engaging – listen to the interviewer with interest. Ask thoughtful follow-up questions. Avoid combative language or approach. Make the interviewer feel comfortable and she / he is likely to reciprocate
- Maintain eye contact – maintain eye contact without drawing the interviewer into a staring competition. We can show our attentiveness with our eyes and general body language and not simply with our ears
- Thank you – at the end of the interview, remember to thank the interviewer for her / his time.
So, next time you are preparing for an interview, remember these six tips. And remember also "You never get a second chance to make a first impression". Good luck!