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How to make a good impression at a job interview

Last Updated: 21.07.21

by Alan

Job interview in progress

It’s crucial to make a good impression at a job interview. The American soul music group The Impressions pretty much nailed it back in 1975 when they sang ‘First impressions are lasting impressions’ (search YouTube – it’s worth a listen). But making a positive first impression doesn’t just help your love life; it’s also vitally important when you are attending an interview. In fact research has shown that it can take less than a second for a hiring manager to form an opinion of you based on your physical appearance, body language, attitude, clothes and mannerisms. And these first impressions can be very hard to change.

This is potentially good news if you are a job seeker at interview. If you make a good first impression, your interviewer is very likely to keep it unless you do something to prove them wrong. You might even argue that making a positive first impression could be just as important as delivering great answers to the interviewer’s questions.

So let’s examine the steps you can take to nail those crucial first few seconds.

Look the part to make an impression at a job interview

Appearance matters when making a first impression. So wear the right attire—it’s hard to go wrong in a business suit and clean, polished shoes– and make sure that the rest of your appearance is impeccable. Oh, and go light on the perfume or aftershave. Show the hiring manager that you would be a good representative of the company when meeting with clients.

Be on time

Arrive a few minutes early and take time to compose yourself. The last thing you want to do is arrive late, out of breath and red-faced from the sprint there. 

Be courteous to reception staff

Obviously you are always friendly and polite to font-of-house staff, but bear in mind that some companies specifically ask their front desk attendants how interviewees coming through the door behave. Kindness and courtesy always go down well.

Turn your phone off

Don’t worry, you’ll survive without your phone for an hour or so. And really turn it off, not just to ‘silent’. The distraction it might cause, vibrating in your pocket or bag, just as you are formulating a clincher answer to that all-important question could potentially cost you the job. Anyway, it’s good manners.

Bone crusher…or limp & insipid?

Don’t be afraid to extend your hand first for that introductory handshake…or elbow bump. If it’s a handshake, comfortably firm is adequate. Either way, you’re letting them know that you’re excited to be there, that you are confident and ready for your interview.

Have an ice-breaker

After the initial introductions, build on your positive first impression by having a piece of news or information that starts the conversation and shows you’ve done your homework. 

“I noticed your recent ‘Excellence in Export’ award in the foyer. That’s quite an achievement, I’m sure you’re all very proud.”

connect talent Illustration

Listen…and take your time

We’ve all been there. Your head is so busy analysing your answer to the last question that you don’t listen closely to the next one. So try to really listen and if in doubt, ask for the question to be repeated. Take a moment to formulate your reply and speak in a steady, measured tone. It buys you time to think and it slows down your racing brain. Smile and nod your head in a positive fashion to reinforce key points that you are making. 

Make eye contact

Maintain eye contact, to the best of your ability. If there are two or more interviewers on the selection panel, make sure you use eye contact to engage with each of them as your impart your answers. Remember to smile and also nod your head in a positive fashion to reinforce key points that you are making.

Be enthusiastic 

This doesn’t mean be gushy. It means show the interviewer that you are passionate about what you have done to date in your career or studies and that you will bring the same positive mental attitude into your next job. 

Post interview follow up

After the interview, why not follow up with an email message, note, or phone call to relay your thanks for the interview and reiterate why you’re an excellent candidate for the job? At the very least it will show you care about this opportunity.

Make an impression at a job interview with PeopleHawk

Why wait until you’re sitting in an interview to put all of these pointers into practise? By creating your own PeopleHawk digital profile, you can record and deliver a video-recorded elevator pitch and a structured digital interview that employers can view, right up front. It’s a chance to get all the key impression creators right and to connect and inspire potential employers like never before. 

What is more, you can use your unique PeopleHawk digital profile to engage directly with colleagues, influencers and employers, and make use of PeopleHawk’s ‘one-click’ job application feature to apply for positions with leading employers. This means hiring managers get your full PeopleHawk profile immediately, replacing the outdated application form and resume process.

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