How to Not Blow Your Job Interview From the Beginning

Most people believe they have learned everything they can about an individual in as little as 30 seconds. You have almost no time to make a first impression and, since most people base the rest of their interactions on that first impression, you have almost no time to win over the interviewer (or, at the very least, avoid a bad start to your interview). Yes, it is possible to overcome a bad first impression, but since first impressions can change the dynamic of the interview, it may not be possible to salvage your job chances.

So you have 30 seconds. Half a minute to try to make the best first impression you possibly can. Here are several tips for ensuring you don’t totally screw it up.

How to Make a Good First Impression

  • Sit Confidently

When you wait in the lobby for the interviewer, sit confident and ready. You never know when they will walk in, and even if they catch a glimpse of you shaking nervously, that may be enough for them to conclude you don’t have a great deal of confidence.

  • Stop Practicing

Many people continue to practice their interview answers while waiting for the interview. Don’t do that. You want to appear unpracticed. If you are seen practicing your interview answers, you will look nervous and over-prepared.

  • Be Presentable

Here is why it is important to make sure you have dress your best for the job interview. You want to make a great first impression, and in general this involves dressing professionally, with proper grooming.

  • Make a Great Introduction

Shake hands with a nice firm grip, speak up and be active in introducing yourself to your interviewer. First impressions are not limited to what they see. They will also judge you based on the tone of your voice and your perceived confidence. Make eye contact, be friendly, and show enthusiasm to make a great first impression.

Be Ready to Be Your Best Self

Practicing can help you have a great interview, but a poor first impression can spoil its impact. Hiring managers try to judge you based on your perceived competency alone, but they’re still human beings, and human beings make early judgments. Do your best to make a good first impression and you are sure to start your interview off on the right foot.

Take Away Interview Tips

  • Take the time to make a good first impression.
  • Show confidence.
  • Your first impression starts as soon as you step foot in the door, even if you are waiting in the lobby.

How Important is a Handshake?

Author: Micah May 9, 2010 Job Interview Tips No Comments Tags: Tags: ,

“After I graduated I started working for a startup software company. Even though they were only a few years old, this company made bank. They pulled in at least 3 million a year and only had 15 employees, all of them overpaid (except for me, of course).

One day while I was working I looked at my fingers and saw that there was ink all over them. Apparently my pen was leaking from the side. I got up and went to the bathroom to wash my hands. Two of my supervisors were using the bathroom while I was scrubbing the ink off. They were talking about work while they were going. That’s gross. Never talk to someone while they’re going to the bathroom.

Anyway, the ink wouldn’t come out easily. I had to scrub and scrub only to watch the ink slowly fade. While I was washing, my bosses finished up both their conversation and their “business,” walked out of the stalls, nodded at me and made a joke about the ink, then walked out of the bathroom.

They didn’t wash their hands.

Two grown men making over six figures did not wash their hands after going to the bathroom. I shook their hands during my interview. Next time I’m going to bring Purel.”

What Your Handshake Says About You

Stories like the one above aside, a good handshake is a necessary part of any job interview. According to researchers at the University of Iowa, a firm handshake can define how the rest of the interview goes, and may make a more powerful impression than how you are dressed or what you look like.

According to the research, if your handshake is weak or awkward, employers will start off with a negative impression of your candidacy. If your handshake is firm and confident, employers are more prone to finding you an ideal fit.

From the University of Iowa press release:

Stewart said the researchers found that those students who scored high with the handshake raters were also considered to be the most hirable by the interviewers.

Why is the handshake important? Stewart suspects it’s because a handshake is one of the few things that provides a glimpse into the person’s individuality during the first few minutes of an interview.

In other words, while people spend hours and hours on interview preparation, few people remember that the handshake is an important part of the interview, and thus provide a weak handshake that indicates possible weaknesses in your character.

What Should You Do?

When you meet someone for the first time, take the initiative to hold out your hand and give them a handshake. Use a firm grip and shake their hand with some decent up and down action. Also, as you are shaking their hand, look them in the eye, smile, and don’t focus on the handshake itself. Rather, focus on introducing yourself to the interviewer.

Handshakes may not seem important, but they are part of the non-verbal communication that you display to your interviewer, and research confirms that a strong handshake is an indicator of a successful interview. Shake hands with confidence and don’t be afraid to squeeze a little. As for the graduate’s story above:

“Every day I had to wipe down the handle before opening it with a paper towel. Finally I decided to stick a sign on the door with an arrow pointing to the handle that said ‘Are you touching this? If you didn’t wash your hands, chances are other people didn’t either. The sink is right behind you.’ I’m not sure if it changed anything but the sign stayed up for the next 3 months before a maintenance worker took it down for cleaning.

The corporate world can be a gross place.”

Take Away Interview Tips

  • Actively shake the hands of those you meet.
  • Always maintain eye contact and supply a firm grip.

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Hair Color and First Impressions at Job Interviews

Job interviews have somewhat strict dress code. It is expected that you show up wearing suit or professional skirt. You should be clean and smell wonderfully. Your clothes should be pressed and without stains.

Part of looking professional requires you to make some sacrifices. One of these sacrifices may be your hair color. It you dye your hair it may be important for you to first dye your hair back to its original color (or a similarly professional color) before your job interview.

Pink Hair is Neat, But Too Risky

The corporate world expects a lot from its employees. Part of those expectations relate to how they expect the employee to present themselves in public and in the workplace. If you show up to the job interview with pink hair, you show the employer:

  • You do not present yourself in a professional manner.
  • You may present yourself as a rebel.
  • You enjoy standing out to an absurd degree.

Any hair color that does not look natural is too risky for your job interview. Once you are employed and have had an opportunity to gauge the corporate environment you can discuss hair color with the manager. Until then it is important that you color your hair in a way that appears natural.

The Only Exceptions

In very rare instances there will be jobs that want you to present yourself in a way that is unique, for example in a coffee shop or grunge bar. These types of jobs want to see someone that stands out while they work. You can gauge whether this is appropriate by viewing the employees already working at these locations. If any of them have colored hair, it may improve your job chances. If they all appear fairly unremarkable, color your hair back to a normal shade.

Take Away Interview Tips

  • Unusual hair colors will damage your first impression at the job interview.
  • Dye your hair back to a normal shade.

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