As professional recruiters, we interview a lot of candidates… I mean A LOT. We remember most the very good ones… and unfortunately the very ‘bad’ ones. We form our first impression the first 10 seconds that we meet you. It doesn’t matter if what you do is at entry level or if you are executive management: first impressions count. And, of course, we won’t judge a book by its cover, but ask yourself this:
The first moments of the interview set the tone for the rest of the meeting and will influence whatever you present next. It’s not that we are judgmental, it’s just that between the experience, reference and skills analysis, the interview is often the only few moments we’ll have to get a sense of the candidate’s personality and demeanor. We get particularly attentive to personal branding, we pay attention to details, therefore so should you.
Here are 6 very simple tips that, when applied, make a huge difference. Follow them and be assured to leave a very good impression on the next person that’s interviewing you.
Oh, what a surprise. Sure, it’s well known that being late at your interview leaves a bad first impression. But I must add another factor that one tends to oversee. Arriving too early is just as bad as arriving late. Picture this: if my candidate arrives 45 minutes in advance to our interview (which happens quite often), of course, I won’t leave them wait at the reception. I’ll have no choice but to rearrange my whole schedule. However, some other times, it may not be possible for me to move things around. Anyway, we’ll start the interview both feeling uncomfortable.
Show up ten minutes before the time scheduled, not 40. People all have schedules and without you even knowing, you could be showing ignorance and disrespect for the other person’s time, the same way as if you were to show up 40 minutes late.
Dress how you want to be addressed.
I’m not saying that you should rent a tux. Simply put, the look you choose to put forward is a great and efficient communication channel you can use to show right from the start your professionalism, fashion/aesthetic sense, ambition, seriousness etc.
Dress for the job you aspire and not less. There is no such thing as being overdressed.
Shake hands like you mean it.
A firm handshake is an efficient way to show your confidence and enthusiasm. Confidence shines through these simple things and truly makes the interviews better. Speak up, see the interview for what it is, a conversation.
Easy to forget, and easily harmful to the quality of the interaction. Stress can lead to all sorts of annoying tics, but looking the other person in the eyes is really important in order to build a connection. An interviewer is a person, not a robot. It has to be a two-way conversation.
As recruiters, we are looking for skills, but also for a personality fit. This was mentioned above: skills and experience are pretty much covered outside of the interview room with the CV, references, tests, portfolio, etc. Still, there’s no doubt that we will be looking into that with the interview questions. But while answering, it’s important that you focus on selling your soft skills: communication abilities, social skills, character traits, learning style, etc.
If you show no enthusiasm, no motivation, we can’t see a lot of your personality. We know our clients, but we don’t know you yet. We want to know you as a person, and then as a professional. In many cultures including ours, we are told to be humble and polite, but it’s not true that you can’t make a joke to your interviewer.
“People don’t remember what you said, they remember how you made them feel.” Not entirely accurate, we do take into account what you say. But it’s true that a pleasant experience is a nice memory to attach to an interview. And tell yourself that, if you’re not having fun, we aren’t either… Interviews should be somehow enjoyable. It’s a conversation between two parties who both have the same interest in… YOU!
Sometimes we meet candidates with few experiences, but who manage to “sell” themselves with enthusiasm, and that makes us want to sell them too! Confidence goes a long way. Whether you just graduated or have 10 years of experience, you have to be confident with what you have to offer.
Just remember that…
As a recruiter, I am able to see beyond shyness and nervousness, but not all employers are like that. When working with a recruiter, you get a second chance at a first impression. In case you don’t, just keep in mind that your body language, as well as your look, can be great communication tools and are important to consider while preparing your interview. Best of luck!