As the saying goes – you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Whether you’re meeting a Recruiter, an HR professional or the Hiring Manager, you need to ensure you create the best first impression possible.
According to reports, the human brain makes an impulsive decision within 7 seconds of meeting someone. In this short space of time the other person has formed an opinion of you based on your appearance, your mannerisms, attitude, body language and how you are dressed.
So what do you need to do at an interview to make sure you’re creating the right impression?
Arriving 5-10 minutes before your interview will ensure you are able to compose yourself. Arriving too early will mean you are potentially sat around waiting, allowing nerves and tensions to grow; arriving late is just a no-go! Unless you have an incredibly good reason for arriving late, and have already phoned ahead to warn the interviewer, this will not get the interview off to a good start.
This doesn’t mean you will only create a good first impression if you are a supermodel, but it does mean that you need to present yourself professionally and appropriately. Ensure your clothes are clean and ironed, your hair is neat, any make up looks smart and professional and your shoes aren’t scuffed and scraped. If you’ve just had a coffee, have a mint, if you’ve run from the tube, freshen up in the toilets, if it’s been blowing a gale outside, brush your hair – basically take pride in your appearance.
Meeting someone for the first time with a warm and friendly smile is crucial to creating a positive first impression. A smile makes you appear approachable, it also puts others at ease.
Did you know that when you smile your brain releases feel-good neurotransmitters, including dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin? These chemicals also calm your nervous system by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, so a smile can calm you down just before your interview.
Smiling is also contagious – so if you make your interviewer smile they’ll also release the feel-good chemicals in their brain!
Own your handshake
A strong handshake speaks a thousand words, it shows confidence, charisma, professionalism and aptitude.
Preparation for a handshake is key so make sure you aren’t holding anything in your hand, or that you don’t have greasy or sweaty palms. Then, ensure you reach out with a firm hand but don’t go for the vice-like grip and don’t ‘over-hold’; 2 shakes and release!
A strong handshake will leave a positive impression, a limp handshake will be memorable but not for the right reasons.
When you offer a handshake you should also make eye contact and smile.
Ensure you say ‘Hello’ and perhaps even introduce yourself – all whilst doing nos. 3, 4 and 6!
Maintain eye contact
Sometimes this is easier said than done, but eye contact is a key form of body contact. When you maintain eye contact with someone it shows you are listening, focused and paying attention. If you don’t make eye contact it can signal deception, lack of confidence/shyness or low energy levels.
However, don’t stare! There is a fine line between no eye contact at all and too much; so glance away when the time is right and feels natural.
No, this doesn’t mean be ‘Billy Big Balls’! This just means have confidence in yourself, your skills, experience and attributes. Know your CV inside out and fully understand the job spec and what the client is looking for and you’ll have the confidence to discuss why you’re right for the job. For more information on interview technique, look out for our top interview tips blog coming soon…
Remain positive and professional
As you are lead into the interview remain positive; if you’ve had a bad day, missed your train, had bad interviews in the past or are just not ‘feeling it’ don’t let the interviewer know. Remain positive and professional – ‘oversharing’ is just not a good idea, no matter how at ease the interviewer has made you feel!