The first few minutes of a job interview are critically important for creating a good first impression. In fact, the first 30 seconds can make you or break you. Interviewers gather clues about you based on the way you look, how you shake hands, the eye contact you make and the first words that come out of your mouth. It pays to have a strategy for creating a great first impression every time you interview.
Here are five tips for starting your interview off on the right foot.
- Dress for the White House.
If you were invited to interview with the President of the United States in the Oval Office, there would be no question in your mind as to the level of professionalism you'd want to portray. Your grooming would be impeccable, your clothes spotless and lint free, your shoes in perfect condition. Yet job seekers often make the mistake of dressing too casual for job interviews. Never dress business casual for a job interview. Your suit should be classic in style, and conservative in color. Women, don't wear low necklines or short skirts. Men, make sure your shirt is pressed to perfection and you tie isn't too loud. Likewise, avoid all perfumes, scented deodorants and aftershave lotions. By the way you dress you announce to the interviewer how important you see him and his company.
- Your handshake tells all.
Remember when deals were made on a handshake? That should give you an idea of how important society views the handshake. Your interviewer will read your character in your handshake. He'll decide how honest you are by the way you shake his hand. A limp handshake reveals lack of interest. An aggressive handshake gives the impression of an overly eager or desperate candidate. A tip-of-the-fingers shake says lack of sincerity. Sweaty palms shows fear.
If handshaking isn't part of your daily routine, chances are your handshake is less than what it ought to be. The best way to practice is to go to some kind of social event where you'll have the opportunity to meet many new persons. Make it a game to shake as many hands as you can. See what you can read in others by the way they shake hands. Use the time to perfect your handshake so that your next interview you'll stick out your hand with confidence.
- Mirror your interviewer.
The quickest way to connect with your interviewer is to mirror their speaking style. If he speaks fast, you speak fast. If he has a slow manner of speaking, so do you. More importantly, you must match the level of detail that your interviewer speaks with. There are some people that communicate very directly. When asked a question, they answer in the shortest manner possible. Others are story tellers who embellish their language with plenty of details. You must listen very carefully to your interviewer to discover their level of detail in communicating. If you provide too much detail to one who is direct, you will overload them with what they see as extraneous information. They will quickly loose interest in you. On the other hand, if you are too direct in your answers to one who enjoys details they will suspect that you are trying to hide facts.
It's true that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression. If you blow the first few minutes of your interview you may have lost your chance at a great job. Remember, you'll most likely interview several people for each job opportunity. You'll have to make a great first impression with each interviewer. Don't get lax in your first-impression strategy. Use these tips for each and every person you interview with and you'll be on your way to your next best career opportunity.