You've been selected for a job interview and your excitement has quickly turned to anxiety when you realize you need to be prepared if you're going to win over you interviewers.
In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the first part of the interview preparation process. In Part 2 we covered what important interview questions you could potentially be asked and also the ones you should be asking yourself.
Now it's time to put on the finishing touches.
The most important thing is to be yourself
On the day of the interview, the best way to make a good first impression on your interviewers is to just simply be yourself. You don’t want to get hired based on a mask that you’ll need to put on every day.
Here's a couple of factors to consider that create a first impression:
Attire: You should be aware of what is acceptable business attire in general and the specific organization you're interviewing at. Regardless of the work environment, it's important to dress professionally for a job interview because how you dress can either make or break the job interview.
Poise: Having good posture and poise not only creates a positive first impression, but also subconsciously builds your own confidence. We'll talk about this in more detail a little later. Be aware of your own body language not just for making a good impression, but also for your own sake. Many studies have been done about how our body language not just affects those around us, but also ourselves.
Demeanor: This might be the most important factor of your first impression. You hear the expressions all the the time, "She is calm under pressure" or "They won the game because they kept their cool." However you describe it, your demeanor (or outward facing behavior) tells a story about you as a person. Your demeanor, more than your accomplishments, intelligence, wit, or even professional dress and appearance, matters a lot. Remember that your attitude will change given the person, place, thing or event you are interacting with. Even though your attitudes may change - perhaps you're nervous about this interview or you're having a difficult time relating to the person you're talking to - it’s important that your demeanor stay as consistent as possible.
You often hear people say "It takes 7 seconds to make a first impression", and you probably ask yourself "How can that be?" It all comes down to body language. People will create an impression of you, whether consciously or subconsciously, often before they even speak to you. We mentioned briefly before that your poise has a big effect on not just those around you, but also yourself and your own confidence. So how should you carry yourself? What does a poised person look like, and what are some other factors to consider when it comes to body language?
Eye contact: This is often the first connection you'll make with someone even before you speak or touch them. You can make eye contact with someone across an entire room. Looking at someone’s eyes transmits energy and indicates interest and openness. It's uncomfortable for many people to make eye contact, especially for an extended amount of time like throughout an interview. One way you can improve your eye contact is by making a practice of noticing the eye color of everyone you meet.
Smile: There have been many studies on the act of smiling, and it relays happiness, authenticity, and trust across cultures and generations. A smile is an invitation, a sign of welcome, especially in American culture. It says “I’m friendly and approachable.” Just remember there can also be too much of a good thing - smiling excessively will only make you look weird and detached, especially if it's not appropriate based on the moment and what is being discussed. The best rule of thumb is to let your smiles come naturally.
Shake hands: This is a quick and effective way to establish rapport. Research shows it takes an average of three hours of continuous interaction to develop the same level of rapport that you can get with a single handshake. People often make judgments about your character based on your handshake. The handshake is a crucial part of business culture in America. Here are 4 things to remember about shaking hands in the United States: 1. Make eye contact and smile, 2. Shake with one hand only, 3. Don't give a weak handshake, and 4. Always shake hands before and after the meeting or interview.
Posture: Status and power are non-verbally conveyed by height and space. Slumping over with poor posture is an indication that you are not confident in what you are expressing when you speak. Good posture is a way to exude confidence to the interviewer. When you sit up straight and look straight ahead, it also encourages you to look directly into the interviewer’s eyes when speaking. Standing straight and tall, pulling your shoulders back, and holding your head straight are all signals of confidence.
Putting it all together
This is the conclusion of our Preparing to Interview Effectively series. You've gone through all the steps of preliminary research, question anticipation, and final touches for making a good first impression. Now it's time to go out there an get your dream job! Even though job interviews can be intimidating, remember at the end of the day, a company wants to find a reason to hire you - it's in their best interest after all. Do your homework, tell your story, and be confident and you'll leave a lasting impression. Remember, when you believe in yourself, others will too.
If you missed them, make sure you go back and reading Part 1 and Part 2 of our Preparing to Interview Effectively series. For a more in depth look at interviewing, check out our Interview Preparation series where you'll have access to common interview questions used by Fortune 500 Companies along with the strategies to answer them effectively.