How To Make a Good First Impression in a Job Interview

You know when you meet someone for the first time you start forming ideas in your head of what type of person they are. You ask yourself are they trustworthy, are they friendly, will I get on with them. This is a natural human trait designed to protect ourselves from danger and ensure that we are safe.The same process happens in the job interview, and in the first few minutes the interviewer will form an unconscious opinion of you. Making a good first impression is vital in a job interview and in fact you can use these first minutes to your advantage. In this post I give you some top advice relating to both verbal and non-verbal language to make a winning first impression.

The Apprentice candidates shows how NOT to do it.

The new series of The Apprentice is now on our screens and all candidates have made their first impressions to Sir Alan Sugar. Some were quiet and some were loud but all were judged. In this 12 week long interview for an investment partner job candidates must prove their skills whilst proving their character.

Joe McDermott of Anson Reed, the job interview coaching specialists is quite shocked at the antics in the boardroom so far. “The first two candidates to be fired from The Apprentice were very argumentative and the boardroom discussions have descended into chaos. I have conducted many Assessment Centres with similar formats and would be disappointed at the lack of professionalism.”

Create a Great Impression in the First Few Minutes

The interviewer will most likely be meeting your for the first time and as in a social encounter they will forming an impression from the first few seconds of meeting you. They will not be aware they are doing this as it all happens sub-consciously, It will be in the form of a ‘gut feeling’.

In the job interview you will only have a short space of time to sell yourself. So how do you create that favourable first impression that can win you the job?

Sell yourself big time: The opening job interview question will usually be something like “Tell me about yourself”. Do as the candidates do on the show and big yourself up. Start with your greatest achievement and then talk about how you got there. You need to be confident but do not take it too far. Learn from The Apprentice rejects so far and:

  • Do not come across as too loud or too quiet – there is a happy medium
  • Do not pretend to have the skills if you don’t. Job interview questions are not yes/no questions – you will be expected to elaborate and give examples so don’t set yourself up for a fall.
  • Do not argue with other candidates if in a group interview. Say your piece and explain reasons.
  • Definitely do not talk over the interviewer. Remember, you want to impress them, not rub them up the wrong way.

Of course The Apprentice is a TV show and you need to balance giving a great answer that sells yourself with giving the impression that you are aggressive. This is not a positive trait for the majority of jobs and you need to temper your answer accordingly. You have to think what are the key factors that will make the interviewer hungry to give you the job. What is it they need desperately and this will form the basis
of your answer.

Use Positive Body Language: An interview is more than just questions and answers and the decision will also be based on the overall impression you give including
non-verbal signals. The very first impressions are made before you even sit down. Walk in confidently and introduce yourself whilst waiting to be offered a seat. Thank the interviewers for inviting you here.

Smiling shows confidence: We all react to a smile and this shows you to be confident, comfortable and pleased to be at the interview. Indeed for a nervous interviewee a smile can help banish those nerves. Remember too that the interviewer may be nervous and immediately smiling helps set a more friendly encounter.

Make Eye Contact: Again this is a vital piece of body language which shows confidence.

Dress as if you were in the job: What you wear to the interview can make a great impact on the first impression you give. The right selection of attire and accessories can make a very successful first impression and go a long way towards wining you the job. I always advise candidates to dress as if you were already in the job and giving a presentation in front of the board. So fit your clothing choices to those worn at the company but just up a notch for the interview itself. This shows you have made an effort and that you care.

Creating a good first impression in an interview is common knowledge to some people however it is very surprising how many job interview candidates forget the simple
things. Joe comments “Perhaps due to a lack of knowledge or experience many applicants just fail in the fort few minutes of the interview. However it is these first impressions which for us as interviewers make all the distinction between a great and a poor candidate.”

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