How to make a good first impression at a job interview
They say that first impressions are lasting, and nowhere is this more relevant than in the interview room. Richard Branson says he tends to make up his mind about people within 30 seconds of meeting them.
While interviewers use many methods to assess candidates, it pays to make an effort to impress from the moment you walk in the door. Here are some tips to help you work your magic from the first hello.
Looking the part: what to wear to a job interview
If you want the part, you need to look the part – so choose your interview attire carefully. When deciding what to wear to the interview, remember that a big factor in getting a job is cultural fit, so while it’s better to err on the side of formality and professionalism, you don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb.
Search LinkedIn for profile photos of staff at the organisation you want to work for. Even if there isn’t an official uniform, there will be an unofficial one. Look for clues about the culture of the place and choose your outfit accordingly – you probably wouldn’t turn up to an interview at a tech start-up in a three-piece suit, and you certainly wouldn’t show up at a law firm wearing boardshorts.
Also give some thought to the colours you choose. While there are no hard and fast rules about what colours you should wear, studies conducted by US colour psychologists suggest that blue is the safest bet, conveying someone reassuringly stable; white or grey implies logic and organisation; and red conveys power. Unless you’re going for a creative job, you might want to reconsider before donning something in purple, yellow or green.
Making your entrance
It’s important to project a positive image from the moment you meet and greet your interviewer. Make sure you greet them with a firm handshake and, of course, smile.
“It’s really important for candidates to project ease and confidence when they meet the interviewer. Hiring managers understand that candidates are usually nervous, but a smile goes a long way to creating a positive impression,” says Dean Davidson, Executive General Manager of Recruitment in Australia.
Mirroring and other body language tips
Countless studies have backed up what most of us intuitively understand – human beings are social animals hardwired to ‘mirror’ the behaviour of those around them. If you make a point of smiling frequently during your job interview, your interviewers will find themselves starting to smile back at you.
The relationship between smiling and happiness runs both ways – so even if you’re not feeling particularly happy now, just start smiling and you soon will be. That means that if you get your interviewers smiling, they’ll associate you with pleasant and positive feelings.
Also be aware of your body language throughout the interview. Be sure to maintain eye contact and an open but relaxed posture (don’t cross your arms or legs or tense up) so you exude relaxed confidence.
Want to learn more about how to make a powerful first impression and other ways to succeed at a job interview? Download our guide, 34 ways to master the art of the interview.