We’ve all seen horrible interviews in the movies, where the main character is a hot mess (to say the least). They race to get there on time, arriving disheveled, winded and late— or, they stutter over their words and profusely sweat when the questioning begins.
These situations are often dramatized for the big screen, but the truth remains the same: first impressions matter. This character doesn’t get the call back for a reason… they messed up!
Don’t be the disastrous Hollywood cliche. Make a good first impression and land the job you want, with these helpful interview tips:
1. Review Your Social Media Before Applying
You may not realize it, but your interviewer’s first impression of you occurs before you even step foot through the door. Before requesting an interview, this person likely already scrubbed your social media accounts, including your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.
This means that everything you post is fair game for judgement. One big mistake people make is oversharing on social media, or lying or embellishing on their resume and getting caught online. In fact, it’s one of the biggest reasons Millennials don’t get a first interview.
Be mindful of everything you post, and before you start applying to new jobs, go through and delete anything questionable (yes that bikini shot or you smoking a cigar with your buddies might qualify).
2. Be Timely & Gracious When Scheduling the Interview
If you are fortunate enough to be asked for an interview, your response is another way to make a good first impression, before the actual interview. If you receive a voicemail from an unknown number and it’s them, don’t wait too long to reply. Returning a call more than 24 hours after receiving a voicemail can reveal a lack of excitement or poor organization skills.
Instead, try calling your interviewer back within an hour or two of receiving the voicemail. If you are working, step out or take a bathroom break. The purpose of your return call is just to set up a time to meet, so it shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes.
Grab your calendar and be ready with your availability. Start off by thanking your interviewer and sharing your enthusiasm for the interview, then ask what times would be best to come in. Never tell them your schedule; work around theirs.
3. Be Diligent About Getting the Info You Need, Beforehand
We’ve all been there, you pull up to the company’s address and realize you don’t actually know which door to go through, or who to ask for! Yikes. Calling your interviewer minutes before your appointment for help looks disorganized, and can make you late.
When scheduling your interview, don’t hang up before you ask all the necessary questions:
- How’s traffic during this time? Can I expect delays with roadwork, etc.?
- Where do you recommend I park? Will I need to feed a meter, get a ticket for a lot, etc.?
- Once parked, how do I find you? Which door can I enter through, do I have to be buzzed in, which floor are you on, etc.?
- Will there be a receptionist? Should I ask for you specifically? (or if it’s someone else organizing the interview, ask who you’ll be speaking with)
- What can I bring to the interview besides my resume and portfolio?
- What’s your dress code? Is business casual appropriate for the interview?
4. Stay Off Your Phone in the Waiting Room
If you’re lucky enough to be asked to come in and arrive on time without hiccups, don’t mess up in the waiting room. Some companies purposely test you during this time, asking receptionists to observe you. Zappos, for instance, asks their shuttle driver to share how the person acted on the ride there, and will send disrespectful passengers home before they even have the interview! Preparation, courteousness and professionalism as you wait matters.
Here are three powerful tips:
- Bring a pen! If the receptionist gives you paperwork to fill out as you wait, you might need it. They may even pretend to not have one to see if you came prepared.
- Always smile and thank anyone you meet, not just the interviewer. You don’t want to look like a robot turning on the “niceness” only when the key player enters the room— you’ll appear disingenuine.
- While waiting, be mindful of your body language and what you do to preoccupy yourself. Don’t slouch in your seat and pull out your phone like a bored teenager. Don’t put in headphones or shovel down the rest of your breakfast burrito that you got on-the-go. We recommend bringing a book and reading, or striking up light small talk with someone next to you instead.
5. Shake the Interviewer’s Hand
Seems simple enough, but this first point of contact makes an instant connection. According to research by the University of Iowa, your handshake is one of the first nonverbal cues someone receives about your personality— something they often can’t help but remember.
Generally, we recommend a firm, short shake. Offer a warm smile and soft eye contact, and avoid too many shakes or too tight/ too limp of a grip. Here’s more advice on how to create a good first impression with the right handshake.
6. Watch Your Body Language When Seated
You could be saying a whole lot without even speaking through your body language. You probably know already not to slump your shoulders or to avoid fidgeting, but do you know what to do with your hands or the right body angle to position yourself in? Check out our article all about body language interview mistakes to avoid any bad first impressions.
7. Perfect the “Tell Me About Yourself” Question
One of the first questions you’ll be asked during your interview is the vague and nerve-wracking “so tell me a little about yourself” introduction. This question can be really intimidating, but it’s very important to nail down.
This is the appetizer to the main course, and sets the tone for the entire “dinner” ahead. Read our article on answers to this and other common interview questions, to prepare for the conversation itself.
8. Send a Thank-You Note After the Interview
You may think that your first impression ends when you leave the hot seat, but it doesn’t have to. Bid your interviewer a fond farewell and march straight to the nearest mailbox.
If you followed our advice on writing a thoughtful thank-you note before the interview, the interviewer will have a kind letter in their hands only a day or two after your meeting. This extra gesture will set you apart from the competition, and be the final “first” impression you need to leave a lasting one.
The way you initially present yourself says a lot about you, and it’s crucial to impress your interviewer from the start. Here are seven more nontraditional tips for job seekers to nail the interview— beyond the first impression.
At GoGig, we understand that your personality matters to attract the right employer. We also know that it can be hard to find a company who shares your same values.
That’s why we do job hunting a bit differently…
Our free personality profile allows you to search for employers based on the things you most care about in a company— and for employers to find you based on your unique requirements.