Make an Impression in 30 Seconds

ID-100192673When you go to a job interview, the interviewer makes a lot of judgements about you before you even open your mouth.  The impression that you make on the interviewer when you walk through the door can set the tone for the whole interview.  Here are some tips to help you impress the interviewer in the first 30 seconds:

Don’t be late.  It is hard to recover from being late to an interview.  It gives the immediate impression that you are unprofessional and no matter how great you perform at the interview, some employers will never see past it.  Aim to be about 15 minutes early so that you can do a quick mirror check and relax before the interview gets started.

Clean yourself up.  If you do nothing else before your interview, at least make sure that you are clean and groomed.  That means taking a shower, brushing your hair, shaving, brushing your teeth, and using deodorant.  Poor hygiene will be a deal breaker with most employers.

Dress professionally.  Interviewers will pay attention to how you dress to determine whether or not you will fit in with the organizational culture.  Aim to dress slightly more formal than you would if you were actually working at the company.  Pay attention to the details like making sure that your clothes are pressed and your shoes are polished.

Smile.  You’ve shown up to the interview on time and you look great.  The next step is to win them over with your sparkling personality.  Smiling is an effective way to break down barriers and put people at ease.  When you smile at an interview it makes people like you and want to work with you.

Get a good handshake.  In the Canadian workplace, a good handshake is still important.  It contributes to the impression that the employer forms about your confidence and your professionalism.  Your handshake should be firm and it should be combined with good eye contact.  If you are unsure about your handshake, practice it on your friends and networking contacts to get feedback.

Just getting an interview is an accomplishment in itself.  You don’t want to lose the opportunity in the first 30 seconds.  With the right preparation you can present yourself in a way that keeps the employer’s attention on your skills and on how you would be the perfect fit for the job.

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Master Isolated Images)

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Get the Employer’s Attention in 5 Seconds or Less

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)

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How Employers Judge You in 5 Seconds

“It only takes 3-5 seconds to make a first impression.”  (Dana May Casperson, author of Power Etiquette: What You Don’t Know Can Kill Your Career.)  During this time, the employer may decide whether or not to hire you.

Of course, once you’ve made it past the first few moments, you need to persuade them that you are the best fit for the position.  However, if you don’t make a good first impression, the interview will be over before it even begins.

Here is what employers are looking for in the first few seconds of the interview:

Appearance:  Are you neat, clean and well-groomed?  Are your papers organized and easily accessible? Is your clothing appropriate for the job for which you are applying?  When in doubt, choose an outfit with some flexibility (for example: a formal jacket that can be removed if necessary.)

Confidence:  Employers are looking for candidates who are confident without being arrogant.  Confidence can be demonstrated in a variety of ways:

Introduction:  When you walk into the room, smile, shake hands, and introduce yourself to everyone.  Don’t be meek.  Let your confidence shine through.  If you don’t feel confident- fake it.

Handshake:  Shake everyone’s hand firmly, but don’t crush them.

Eye Contact:  Be sure to maintain eye contact with all of the interviewers.  Eye contact is seen as a sign of both confidence and honesty.

Smile:  Smile when you meet people and whenever it is appropriate.  Smiling makes you appear confident and helps you connect with your interviewers.

Unscripted Moments:  Employers love to observe and evaluate you when you have no idea that you are being watched.  Some examples of those unscripted moments are walking into the building, riding on the elevator, and waiting in the front office.  Many employers pay more attention to how you conduct yourself when you don’t know that you are being evaluated because you are more likely to reveal your true character.

You can`t get the job in the first few seconds of an interview, but you can certainly lose it.  If you are careful to make a good first impression, you will lay the foundations and ensure yourself the opportunity to sell the employer on your skills and abilities.

(Written by Karen Bivand)