“Make the first impression count” and “the first impression is what matters the most,” are phrases that we often hear from our friends and colleagues going in for a job interview. However, most of them are not quite sure what these words exactly mean and they cannot tell us what it is exactly that we need to do during those first 5 minutes of the interview. Since this short time window really has the potential to make or break our career, here are some tips on how to behave, what to wear, and the thing to say at the initial stage of a job interview in order to nail it straight away.
You stoop to conquer
The thing that scares candidates the most about any job interview is the fact that they’re going to be judged by other strangers. Such pressure may cause you to feel nervous and express this feeling in a negative way by being supercilious towards others on your way to the interview. In this sense, an interview resembles a lot like a love date, where your potential partner is alert and aware of the manner you treat other people. Basically, the interviewers are going to watch your every move and mark your every word from the moment you enter the firm so act kindly towards everybody, including the doorman and the cleaning staff. Be aware that you might run into your new colleagues in the hallway so be on your best behavior, just in case.
The biggest trait about those first 5 minutes of the interview is the fact that you won’t have much time to discuss the job itself. This means that at the beginning of the interview it is not about what you say, but how you behave. You should adopt non-verbal gestures that will confer a sense of confidence and motivation on your part.
These include, but are not restricted to keeping a smile on your face (but don’t grin), shaking the hands of the interviewers firmly, and immediately establishing eye contact. All these nonverbal signs served the purpose of clearly showing that you actually want to be inside their room and that you really want to land this job. It’s OK to feel a bit anxious or to have stage fright but indeed shouldn’t in any manner eclipse the motivation behind your application.
The proper attire
There are numerous myths on how to dress properly for a job interview. In reality, it all depends on the company you wish to work for so there is no point in wearing a tuxedo if you wish to work in a beach bar, nor is it sensical to appear in front of an office building wearing a tank top and flip flops. One look at the company’s social media pages (look for the “office life” category where workers post their own photos) is more than enough to deduce what is expected from you to appear in. The unofficial corporate dress code implies a shirt for men and a blouse for women, accompanied by some neutral-color pants.
When it comes to the shoewear, you should wear shoes that are first of all comfortable to walk in and that fall under the broad fashion category labeled a “casual.” This, however, does not mean that you should wear sneakers or anything vividly colored, as neutral models like black and brown are the most suitable shoes for a job interview. Oh yeah, don’t forget to clean the shoes as part of pre-interview preparations since there is nothing worse than soiling the carpet in the office with the mud from your shoes.
Take your time
We mention how anxiety can cause problems in an interview, even causing you to be a no-show if it grows into a panic attack stooping you from leaving your hose in the first place. To take the psychological pressure off your shoulders, try to take things slowly and complete one task at a time when the day of the interview arrives. This is achieved by arriving early to have time to settle and adjust to the company’s office interior.
You can help break the ice by casually chatting with the receptionist (you see now why we advised you to be nice to everyone?) or another candidate that is sitting next to you and might be even more terrified. Take the extra time before you meet the interviewers to put the cell on silent mode, perhaps comb your hair one final time or button your shirt.
In the end, the initial success in your job interview comes down to the stance you assume. This attitude should be reflected in your non-verbal gestures, the clothes that you wear, and the sense of easiness that comes naturally after overcoming anxiousness. Use the first 5 minutes to engage in small talk and create the impression of a positive, diligent, and before all, a motivated person. These are all the traits that interviewers expect to see from prospective employees walking through the company’s front door.