According to humorist Will Rogers, “you never get a second chance, to make a first impression.” That is never more true than in the interview process. Candidates want to ensure they make the best possible first impression.
Why Does It Matter So Much?
Interviewers will form an impression of you in the first thirty seconds of the interview. In their minds, they are trying to answer two questions: “Do I like you and want to work with you?” And “Are you good at what you do?”
Do I Like You?
The interviewer is making quick assessments of your warmth. They register some quick initial impressions of you and spend the rest of the interview confirming or denying their impressions. They want to know: “Are you someone that fits well with the team?” “Would they want to work with you?” “How do you interact with people?” How do you convey all this in your interview? You start with a smile and a confident handshake. As you start the interview you are attentive and make good eye contact. If the interviewer tries to engage you in small talk, you respond. Demonstrate your passion for the work you do with your answers to their questions and the stories you share to answer their behavioral questions. Remember as you wrap up the interview to say think you and to express your genuine interest in the opportunity. They may also ask the receptionist at the front desk or the administrative assistant who walks you from one office to another for their impressions as well. Your interview begins the minute you open their front door.
Are You Good At What You Do?
The interviewer is also trying to evaluate your competence for this particular position. They want to know how well you performed in your last position and how you plan to translate those skills to meet their needs. Be prepared to share stories of how you solved problems or handled challenging situations. Reading the job description will help you focus on what is important to the employer. Use appropriate language to describe your work and share results where possible. “What impact did your work have?” “How did the company benefit from having you in this role?” “How do you stay current in your field?” “How do you handle challenges, deadlines, etc.?” “How did you achieve both accuracy and timeliness in your work?” While demonstrating your competence to do the job, you want them to start to envision you in their role as a successful contributor.
Remember, it is not just what you say that leaves a lasting impression. Your content is influenced by how you say it and how you behave. Don’t forget to smile and maintain eye contact. Also watch the tone of your answers to ensure you are making the best possible first impression.