Interviews are your best chance to make a good impression and connect with the hiring manager. No pressure, right?
One-third of bosses know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether the candidate is a good match (UndercoverRecruiter), while half can tell in the first five minutes (CareerBuilder).
So, yes. First impressions do matter. Here is everything you need to make a good one.
1. Arrive five minutes early. When it comes to interviews, arriving on time means you’re late. Most candidates make the effort to get there early, so you don’t want to be the only one making a last-minute entrance.
However, there is such a thing as too early. If your recruiter wasn’t expecting you yet, they might feel rushed. If the interview experience is stressful for them, they might walk away with an unfavorable opinion.
Aim to be in the waiting area 5-10 minutes before your scheduled interview time.
2. Remember cell phone etiquette. Checking our phones has become instinctual. The first down moment we get, we automatically refresh our email or check social media. Do NOT do this at an interview. Leave your phone in your briefcase or purse.
Even in the waiting room, put the phone away. Checking your Facebook can make you seem bored and unprofessional. Instead, read through your notes or browse through any coffee table books they might provide.
Additionally, you’ll want to turn off your phone or switch it to airplane mode. Those “silent” vibrations are rarely ever silent.
3. Make eye contact and smile. According to Forbes, two of the most common reasons why otherwise qualified candidates don’t get hired are failure to make eye contact and failure to smile.
Humans are influenced by facial cues. People who smile appear to be more likable, courteous, and even competent (Penn State University). Your smile is your secret weapon! Make eye contact while you smile and it will automatically make your interviewer like you more.
Additionally, you’ll want to pay attention to your body language. Sit up straight and don’t cross your arms over your chest (it makes you seem closed off). If you often fidget, take notes during your interview. It can be an outlet for nervous energy and you’ll also end up with thorough notes to reference!
4. Aim for big small talk. Your interview will likely start with a bit of small talk. Sure, you could talk about the weather… but why not start with bang?
You’ve done your research, so why not use it to start a more memorable conversation. Consider leading with one of these conversation-starters:
- “I saw on LinkedIn that you recently won a Best Workplace award. Your engagement programs are really leading the industry.”
- “I saw in the local business journal that you were ranked as a top-grossing company.”
- “I read your blog post on X. It was very interesting. How do you see that affecting the industry?”
5. “Do you have any questions for me?” Towards the end of your meeting, your interviewer will likely ask if you have any questions. You should say yes.
Asking question shows genuine interest in the position and the company. Here are a few questions you can ask:
- Is there anything about my application/resume that concerns you?
- What would help me be successful in this position/organization?
- Can you tell me more about your journey within the organization?
- What do you think makes this company the best place to work?
- What do you expect the interview timeline to look like?
You can also ask any other questions relevant to the organization, benefits, or industry. Good questions show you’re invested in the industry and that you did your homework on the organization.
Need help preparing for your interview? Check out Part I of our Ultimate Interview Guide: 6 Things You MUST Do Before Your Interview.
And don’t forget post-interview etiquette. Prep for success with Part III: 3 Steps for Making a Good Impression After Your Interview.