First impressions matter so much because they happen so fast. Most people will make judgments within the first 7 seconds of meeting you. And once their impression is formed, it’s very hard to change. This is especially true when it comes to interviews, so you’ll want to impress the hiring manager as quickly as possible.
How can you ensure the interviewer is judging you accurately and seeing your best side? Here are our surefire ways to start out on the right foot, and make a lasting impression within the first 5 minutes – or less!
Not Too Early – Not Too Late
It’s no secret that being late for a job interview is a big no-no. But, did you know that showing up too early can also reflect negatively on you? The perfect time to show up for a job interview is 10 to 15 minutes early. You’ll have enough time to arrive at the correct destination, check-in, gather your thoughts and not feel rushed. Showing up any earlier can actually frustrate hiring managers, whose other scheduled responsibilities will get disrupted – which could make it seem like you have a lack of respect for their time.
Mind your Ps and Qs
Be polite and courteous to everyone you meet, the person you just held the door for could be the CEO. As soon as you get out of your car, know that there are eyes everywhere. This is especially true at the front desk. Hiring managers have been known to check in with their receptionist to get feedback on candidates – and that feedback can directly affect your chances of landing the position.
It’s All About Body Language
When interviewing, it’s normal to be nervous but you don’t want that anxiety to show. Your body language will play a significant role in making you appear confident and comfortable. Everything from your eye contact to your posture to the way you’re angling your body will play a role in showing you’re engaged and interested. Key things to focus on:
- Eye Contact: People who consistently make eye contact are considered more “likable” “confident” and even more “intelligent” than those who have a shifty gaze
- Smile: Having control of your facial expressions is key to making a good first impression. Not only is a smile the most memorable feature after first meeting someone, but it’s also been known to decrease stress hormones – which will no doubt be building up inside you
- The Handshake: You will begin and end the interview with a handshake, ensure your first and last impression count – Keep it firm and confident
Don’t Underrate Small Talk
Engaging in small talk as you make your way to the interview room is a great way to build rapport. Even if it’s just about the weather. You may even stumble upon a point of commonality – the point doesn’t have to be big it could be that you attended the same college, like the same sports team, or have kids the same age. The goal is to create a connection on a human level. It’s also good to point out that they aren’t just hiring someone to do the job – they’re also hiring co-workers. This means they have a vested interest in finding candidates who fit in with their company culture – and an easy conversation can signal just that.
Ask Insightful Questions
To help get a better sense of the role and the company, and to further convey your interest, be prepared with questions you want to ask. You may already know this tip, but what you may not know is that you don’t have to wait until the end when the interviewer asks you if you have any questions. Instead, there are some questions you should actually ask early on in the conversation like “How has this position evolved?” Asking questions like this early on can help you gain more information and history on the position.
You only get one shot at making a good first impression, and those first 5 minutes will seem like they happen in a blink of an eye. From entering the building to the final handshake, putting your best self forward means being mentally prepared and authentic.