So you’re looking good on paper, your qualifications and experience have helped you clear the first hurdle of the selection process and you have secured an in-person interview for your dream job.
Now it is how you present and sell yourself that will be crucial in determining whether or not you secure the job you want.
The first time your potential new employer sees you will be at the interview, so don’t underestimate the importance of how you present yourself.
In the amount of time it takes you to read this sentence aloud, people will have formed an opinion about you: how likable, competent, trustworthy, and aggressive or passive you are. It is reality, and it usually happens unconsciously.
By the time the interviewer finishes shaking your hand, a decision will have been made. With this in mind, you must make the most of those first impressions. Your goal is to make a positive connection that will set the tone for the entire interview, and with so much riding on this initial moment, you can’t leave it to chance.
- Do not attend interviews laden down with baggage; but do bring extra résumés, a notepad, and pen. Do Turn Off all electronics, phones, tablets, smartwatches. You don’t want to have something buzz or ring and distract during your meeting!
- Arrive a few minutes early. Late arrival for an interview is inexcusable. In an unavoidable emergency – Call ASAP.
- First impressions are significant during the job search – and nothing makes a bigger first impression than what you wear to an interview. Dressing appropriately for an interview is imperative.
- Dress like a professional, in a smart business suit with a clean, ironed shirt and tie (or blouse) and dark shoes. Do not wear casual clothes, even if you know that it is company policy.
- Look smart, tidy, clean and professional.
- Neatness is as important as appropriate attire. Shine your shoes. Clothes should be cleaned, pressed and fit well. No tears or missing buttons. Hair should be combed and nails clean and trimmed. Use a light hand when applying makeup and cologne.
- Your attitude and personality play an integral part in getting a job, just as qualifications and experience do. So the overall impression you make is very important. Try not to be too nervous or attempt to project the perfect image. If you’ve done your preparation you will feel confident and calm. Most importantly, BE YOURSELF!
- Be polite to everyone you meet there. They all count. It always comes down to chemistry.
- Take time to develop rapport. Small talk is a skill. Learn it. Typically, when you arrive at an interview, the hiring manager comes to collect you and escorts you to an office or private space. As you walk, smile. Don’t act nervous and make sure you have a positive upbeat personality.
- Remember the interviewer’s name. Greet the interviewer by his or her title and surname and thank them for their time.
- Follow the interviewer’s leads; let them set the tone of the interview.
- Do not chew gum, smoke, swear or use slang.
“Be a nice person, be open and warm.”
Giving clammy or weak handshakes:
- You’d think giving a proper handshake would be the easiest part of the interview process but many candidates don’t give a proper strong handshake. Your handshake should be firm, but not too forceful.
- Science backs up the power of a firm handshake. According to Psychology Today, a study found that applicants with firm handshakes had higher hiring potential and were viewed much more favorably than others. Participants with firm handshakes were also described as “more positive and outgoing and less socially anxious.”
- Avoid barriers between you and the interviewer – such as holding a briefcase on your lap; folding your arms or crossing your legs.
- Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting.
- Try not to fidget, fiddle with your hair or anything else that will make you look nervous.
- Sit upright in your chair and look alert and interested at all times, maintain good posture, do not slouch or act too relaxed.
- Maintain good eye contact throughout.
- Be as charismatic as possible; it is very important that you demonstrate your interpersonal skills during the interview.
- Make sure you understand the question and speak clearly when answering.
- Be a good listener as well as a good talker. Acknowledge the interviewer’s comments and if there is more than one person present, switch your glance between them when answering questions.
- Try to radiate an air of confidence and remember to smile.
Don’t hide who you are:
A well-known branding & image consultant says that confidence has nothing to do with clothes, money or attractiveness.
Everyone knows that person who can walk into a room and command attention and respect. This happens when you have a “strong presence” having a strong presence isn’t just about throwing on an expensive suit. Even more relaxed dressers like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are successful people with a strong presence and ‘Portray a sense of confidence’.
“It has everything to do with how you feel about yourself,” she says. “We all know people who are overweight and just own it.”
She says that when you portray a sense of confidence, others feel confident in your abilities as well. “But if you don’t feel like the superhuman that you are then others won’t see it either,” she says.
Regardless of any shortcomings that you think you have, you can still be perceived as a leader by being authentic, “not being phony and by being on the inside what people see you as on the outside.”
The image consultant points to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He doesn’t normally wear suits, like one would imagine most successful people would, she says “Authentic people have their own look and stay true to themselves.” And lastly, she says “having a strong presence is a combination of three traits: confidence, authenticity, and control.”
By making the most of the first few seconds, your interview will be far more likely to be a conversation—not an interrogation.