First impressions count.
Knowing how to make a good first impression in a job interview can be the difference between success and failure.
In any job interview, the first few minutes – even the first few seconds – are vital.
If you make a bad start to a job interview this can knock your confidence and make you nervous.
This can be the start of slippery downhill slope from which it is difficult to recover.
But even if you manage to recover your composure and go on to perform well, a bad start will also impact the employer’s impression of you.
Get it wrong and you’re starting from a negative position. This makes it much harder to leave a great impression at the end of the interview.
The importance of making a good first impression in a job interview
“You only ever get one chance to make a first impression.”
The diagram below illustrates why making a good first impression in an interview is so important:
This diagram highlights three different interviews for three candidates.
All three candidates are equal in terms of skills and qualifications, and all three put in equally good interview performances that progressively impress the employer throughout the duration of the interview.
The only difference between the three candidates is the first impression, made during the first few minutes of meeting the employer.
Candidate 1 made a positive first impression on the interviewer.
From this positive base, Candidate 1 continued to impress throughout the interview and finished up by leaving the employer with a very positive impression of them.
Candidate 2 made neither a positive nor a negative first impression.
However, their interview performance made a positive impression throughout the rest of the interview. Overall, they finished by leaving a positive impression.
But, it was not as positive as Candidate 1 because they started from a neutral first impression, whereas Candidate 1 started from a positive first impression.
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Candidate 3 made a bad first impression, which immediately brought them into a negative starting position.
Their interview performance was just as good as Candidates 1 & 2, which ultimately left an overall positive impression.
But because they were starting from a negative base after their poor first impression they were behind Candidates 1 & 2 at the end of the interview.
This may seem obvious, but the diagram above nicely highlights the importance of a good first impression when interviewing for a job.
It really can be the difference between success and failure when there is a close field of candidates.
How to make a good first impression: The Good
- Make eye contact when you greet your interviewer, and wear a warm smile. This shows you are confident and friendly.
- Ensure a firm hand shake. Don’t crush your prospective employer’s hand, but equally don’t offer a limp hand for them to shake.
- Stand up straight with your shoulders back. A good posture sends a non-verbal message that you are confident and that you have poise.
- Speak clearly and purposefully, with good articulation and volume.
- Dress smartly and appropriately for the job you are interviewing. If it’s an office based job, you should really be wearing business attire. Polish your shoes, fasten your top button, make sure your tie is straight, wear clean and ironed clothes.
How to make a good first impression: The Bad
- Slouching or closed body language will make you come across as either rude or nervous. Neither of which are good messages to be giving.
- Avoid complaining about the weather, or the traffic jam you’ve just had to sit through, or your delayed train journey, or anything else for that matter. No-one likes to hear complaining, especially if they’ve only just met you.
- Never stay seated to shake someone’s hand if they’re stood up. The least you can do is stand up to shake their hand – it’s a sign of respect.
- Don’t mumble, or talk too quietly – this will make you seem awkward and shy.
Remember, the first impression that you create has a big influence on the overall impression your potential employer will have of you at the end of the interview.
So now you know how to make a good first impression, make sure you get it right to maximize your chances of a successful job interview.