If you’re on the interview circuit, meeting with potential employers can be daunting. Fortunately, there’s a cheat sheet to instantly get on an interviewer's good side. Here are 7 ways to impress an interviewer in the first five minutes of your interview:
1. Be inquisitive.
At the end of most interviews, the interviewer asks the applicant if they have any questions. But you don’t have to wait for that moment to voice your opinions or show off your inquisitive mind. Instead, arrive with prepared questions at your disposal. Asking specific things that demonstrate your attention to detail and confidence shows that you’re interested, have spent time thinking about the company and are excited to learn more.
2. Arrive early.
As the saying goes, early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable. Keep this in mind when it comes to deciding when to arrive to an interview. Avoid being super early, as getting there over 20 minutes early could conflict with other meetings or interviews. Arriving just in the nick of time can make it seem like you’re cutting it too close and not making the interview a priority, so arriving about 10-15 minutes early sends the message that you’re invested but also considerate.
3. Make the most of body language.
Before you open your mouth, the way you hold yourself says a lot about you. If you have to wait when you arrive, be mindful of your body language while you sit. Try not to convey nervous ticks, postures that can make you seem standoffish such as folding your arms, or staring ahead. When potential coworkers walk by, don’t be afraid to exchange a friendly nod. Most importantly, eye contact is key. People who shift their gaze back and forth can come across as being unfriendly or dishonest, while those who stare at the floor or away from the person speaking can appear unconfident.
4. Display kindness.
Be on your best behavior from the moment you arrive. Maintain a friendly attitude toward any assistants or receptionists you interact with. Obviously, this is a good practice for moving through life in general, but it’s especially important when it comes to interviewing for opportunities. Thank everyone who assists you.
5. Bring multiple copies of your resume.
You may not know how many people will be in the group that interviews you. Even if all present have your resume in hand, arriving with a few copies demonstrates that you had the forethought to come prepared, which can put you ahead of the game.
6. Mention something you have in common.
If you’ve done your homework on who your interview will be with, you’ve likely picked up some tidbits about them. Use this information to your advantage. If you know that the two of you interned at the same company, attended the same college or have volunteered at the same organization, work it into the conversation. People tend to more easily trust others when they have something in common, so calling attention to any similarity can start the interview off on a high note.
7. Build rapport with small talk.
While it may be tempting to demonstrate your professionalism right from the jump, lean into moments of casual conversation. Allowing yourself to be seen as a person as opposed to only an applicant can allow the interviewer to think of you in a better light. It allows you to build a connection that isn’t often established by straight business talk alone.
Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. She is a contributing writer for Color My Bubble. Her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets 2017 anthology.