You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Often the employer has made up their mind about whether or not you are a serious contender for the job within a few minutes of meeting you. It’s intimidating, but the reality is that you do have some control over the way that the employer perceives you. Here are some tips that will help you grab the employer’s attention and make them want to learn more about you.
Dress professionally. The way that you dress projects a message to the world about how you see yourself and what you represent. What do your clothes say about you? The best approach is to dress professionally (usually slightly more formal than what you would expect to wear at work). Be clean, well-groomed, and try to look nice. No matter how skilled you are, your appearance counts.
Be organized. Your appearance isn’t just about yourself and what you’re wearing; it also relates to everything that you are carrying. Take a look at your purse, bag, and briefcase. What do they say about you? If you need to grab a pen or a business card, will you be able to access it easily, or will you have to sift through a mountain of old receipts, tissues, and random garbage? If your bags are a mess, the employer may label you as being disorganized.
Polish your introduction. The ability to introduce yourself professionally is a skill that can open a lot of doors for you. Practice your introduction on your friends and make sure that you are comfortable with your handshake. Remember, a bright smile can go a long way towards making a positive first impression.
Be aware of your body language. Since so much of our communication is nonverbal, it is important that you are aware of the messages that you are sending. Ask your friends and colleagues to give you feedback on your body language or video tape yourself doing a practice interview; you might identify bad habits that you didn’t even know you had!
Project enthusiasm. Employers want to hire candidates that are excited about the job. Engaged employees stay in the job longer and make more of a contribution to the organization. A job interview is not the place to play it cool; show the employer that you would be grateful for the opportunity and that you have passion for your work.
In this competitive job market, you have to stand out. Employers have very little time, so you need to make an impression quickly. A professional appearance and a strong introduction will get you off to a good start and will give you the opportunity to impress the employer with what you have to say.
(Written by: Karen Bivand)