Making The Right First Impression
First impressions are so important. Research has stated that apparently interviewers claim that they can tell within 5 seconds as to whether a person will be suitable; estate agents say it takes us about 9 seconds when we walk into a house to decide whether we could live in it. So if that’s true, we rely quite a lot on first impressions.
Inevitably first impressions matter when we are in important situations such as an interview, so how do we make a good first impression at an interview? It’s important to understand what is expected of us at the interview not just in content but also in terms of our appearance. Are we expected to go suited and booted to the interview? Inevitably even in this more casual culture we are still expected to make an effort for the interview. People tend to mistake an organisation that may have a polo shirt or overalls as a uniform to mean they can turn up at interview like that.
The interviewer, particularly if it’s the company owner or the potential line manager wants someone that really wants the job, why? Because they think they will do a really good job. And someone who makes an effort to impress at the interview will give a better impression of really wanting the job than the person who is just turning up because this was one of the many many applications that they applied for.
That means going to the interview in business like attire. A suit or trousers and jacket and shirt and tie for men; and a skirt suit, trouser suit or dress and jacket or the like for woman. For both polished un -scuffed shoes, hair neat, men shaven and for women unless your legs are really tanned – tight. If you have a tattoo or two – keep it hidden, especially if the role is some sort of customer service role. For women, smart but discreet make up – again make up looks like you have made the effort but you don’t want to look like a painted doll.
Having said all that you have to look at the role you are applying for and if you are applying for a role as a sales assistant in a very high fashion shop then going along in something more fashionable than a black trouser suit will give the impression you understand the role. So there has to be an element of common sense as to what will give the impression of really wanting the job.
In addition to your clothes is how you walk into the interview and greet the interviewer. If you get to the company reception and the receptionist offers you a drink, take water! There is nothing worse than having to balance hot cup of coffee, open an office door and then shake a hand- someone inevitably wears the coffee and its only good news if it’s you!
Shake hands, make the effort to go in and make the first move, don’t expect the interviewer to, it’s only a handshake and gives an impression of quiet confidence. Make sure it’s a firm handshake, but whilst we have all got the memo about a firm handshake – firm does not mean break the interviewers’ hand.
Hopefully you will have done your research on the company and will have written or typed out your questions you want to ask, don’t be afraid to take all this with you in a file and refer to it. It shows the interviewer you have taken your research seriously and as long as you don’t refer to it throughout, a glance for a question is fine.
First impressions are very important and sometimes one of the best ways is thinking what would make you think, they are really trying? If the interviewer feels you are making a real effort they are far more forgiving for the unforeseen mistake