It takes a matter of seconds for people to form their first impression of you — 27 seconds, according to one study.
When you head into a job interview, it’s essential to make a positive first impression because it will guide the trajectory of the entire meeting — and the hiring process. So, how can you ensure that you do?
1. Do your homework.
The goal is to come in armed with information about the employer and your interviewers. This will not only allow you to speak knowledgeably about the company, but it will also help you appear more confident, something that will come across in those initial few seconds.
Peruse social media accounts. Look for press releases. Comb the website. If you know the interviewers’ names (or have a good idea of them), search for their LinkedIn profiles, publications, portfolios and anything else you can find.
Research the position itself, too. If you appear to know everything you can about the business and the role, then the hiring managers will see that you’re prepared and enthusiastic about the job.
2. Dress for success.
Like it or not, how you appear plays an important role in how you come across to your interviewers. Even if the office is casual, dress a notch or two above the standard of the workplace. That means, for example, business casual in a casual office, business formal in a business casual office and so on.
Take care with the rest of your appearance, too. Comb your hair. Iron your clothes. If you wear makeup, keep it minimal and tasteful. Brush your teeth. At the end of the day, you want to be clean, neat and tidy.
3. Show up on time — or better yet, early.
It probably goes without saying, but Do. Not. Be. Late.
Even if you arrive 10 minutes after the scheduled start of the meeting will set a negative tone. By arriving on time, you’re demonstrating that you’re conscientious and respectful, qualities the manager will want to see in an employee.
Better yet, show up 10 minutes early. If you build that extra time in, then you can guarantee that any hiccups that occur in your travel plans won’t make you late. If you're interviewing virtually, join the virtual meeting early and give yourself time to look over how you look on video.
4. Take initiative when greeting the interviewer.
As soon as you see the interviewer, make eye contact, smile and reach out to shake their hand. If you're doing a virtual interview, smile and look directly into the camera. By taking that initiative, rather than waiting for them to do it first, you’re demonstrating confidence. Introduce yourself at the same time and let them know how happy you are to meet them.
Use the same level of professionalism and courtesy when you greet the person at the front desk or meet another member of the team. Don’t immediately dismiss them because they’re not the hiring manager or interviewer. You want to treat everyone with respect to demonstrate what kind of colleague you’ll be.
These gestures may seem small, but they’re critical in forming and solidifying a positive first impression — one that will strike the right tone for the interview and entire hiring process.
About the Career Expert:
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.