In an interview, it doesn’t take long for employers to make snap judgements based on attributes or behaviors that candidates display during the early stages of an in-person (or Skype) interview. While this can feel unfair, it is human nature and part of the interview process, so candidates need to take advantage of the opportunity and work to send strong signals of professionalism, maturity and authentic interest.
When heading into an interview, there are a number of ways that you can come prepared to make a great first impression and focus the employer’s attention on your strengths and the value that you could add to the organization. Here are a few to consider:
1. Dress comfortably and professionally
Coming to an interview looking polished and professional is one of the most important aspects of making a great first impression. While a clean and sophisticated appearance is critical, it’s also important to be comfortable in your wardrobe and accessories to avoid fidgeting with clothing, hair or jewelry. Keep your hair pinned back and ensure that the outfit you choose is one that won’t be distracting to either you or the interviewer.
2. Anything that could be a distraction, will be
To the point above, candidates should assume that anything that has the potential to be distracting needs to be cautioned against. Keep technology off and tucked away, and be sure that you come prepared with a good working pen and portfolio notepad. Some note-taking is okay, but to stay engaged in the conversation, maintain good eye contact and limit too much other activity.
3. Show interest without interrogating
Candidates should do their research on the company and be able to articulate what the company does and its market position—what it does to win against its competitors. They should come to the interview prepared with four to six relevant questions about the company’s future plans, the position, how it fits with the organization, and what has made previous employees in that position successful. While good questions can display knowledge of the company and interest in the role, it’s important not to overwhelm the employer with too many questions. Instead, use the employer’s answers to your questions to convince them that your experience and skills are a great fit for what they need. Oh, and save salary and benefits questions for later rounds of interviews, or even after you get the offer; focus the first conversation on ways that you can add value to the team.
While poor first impressions can be a quick way to miss opportunities that might have otherwise been a good fit, good preparation and conscious choices during the interview can put candidates on the desired path to be a leading candidate for prospective employers.Tags: Interview Preparation, Interview Tips