They say you only get one chance to make a first impression.
It may sound cliché, but it’s true. And it’s especially important when you’re looking for employment.
That’s because the moment a potential employer first interacts with you, they will already form an opinion. That first impression happens in the blink of an eye, before you even say a word.
It influences how your interviewer perceives you throughout (and after) your interview. So if you wish to get the best possible chance of getting hired, you’ll need to impress them right away.
Want to know what you can do to make a positive first impression at your next interview?
Check out these five tips!
How to make a good first impression at your interview:
1. Dress to impress.
You may not be looking for a suit-wearing corporate job, but you should still make an effort when dressing for your interview.
If you’re interviewing for a warehouse or manufacturing job for example, a nice pair of jeans or slacks and button-down shirt or blouse will go a long way.
Above all, make sure you look clean and tidy. Don’t wear anything wrinkled or stained. Being neat and polished in your appearance will help further your brand as a professional.
Even if you’re having a phone interview, consider dressing up a little. It will put you in the right mindset and will make you feel more confident.
And if you’re having an online interview, think of your background as well. It’ll contribute to the initial impression you leave just as much as your outfit. So keep anything you wouldn’t want your interviewer to see out of sight or consider a blurred or alternate background.
2. Arrive on time.
Ideally, you should always get to your interview around 10-15 minutes early. It’ll give you time to settle down and get your bearings. Not to mention it’ll show your interviewer that you are reliable.
Above all, try not to get to your interview late. It implies you are unreliable and careless, and could cost you the job before the interview even begins.
This is especially important if you have a video or virtual interview where there are few excuses for being late. To avoid issues, check your internet or phone connection in advance and be ready with everything you need a few minutes early.
Still, unavoidable delays occasionally do happen. If you find yourself in a situation where you know you’re going to be late, the best thing you can do is to get in touch with your interviewer to let them know what is going on.
After all, informing your interviewer that you’re stuck in traffic or that your internet is malfunctioning is better than just showing up late. At the very least, it displays your communication skills and shows you care.
3. Don’t bring your baggage.
Literally and figuratively. You want to be as unburdened as possible as you come for your interview.
So don’t bring any shopping bags, gym bags, or any additional oversized baggage. Leave your coffee and bottled waters in the car or dispose of them before entering the building. And turn off your phone.
Similarly, do your best to keep your emotional baggage out. It’s ok to be having a bad day, but if you come in looking distracted and like you’d rather be somewhere else (even for a good reason), that might give off the wrong impression.
If you can, give yourself a few minutes to settle yourself. Then, take a deep breath and try to focus 100% of your attention on your interview.
The idea is to bring only what you need. This includes your resume, any documents asked of you and possibly a notebook, if you’d like to jot anything down. This way, you’ll give your interviewer a chance to focus on what you have to offer without getting distracted.
4. Be kind and friendly.
Of course, kindness is always important. But when it comes to making a good first impression at an interview, it’s non-negotiable.
Keep in mind that your interview starts the second you walk through the door. You may want to focus all your attention on the hiring manager but remember to treat everyone with respect.
Every employee you come in contact with is developing an opinion of you based on that initial interaction. And while these people may not have hiring power, don’t think their opinion isn’t being shared throughout the office.
Not to mention, if you do end up getting the job you interviewed for, you want your future colleagues to have a positive first impression of you. That’ll help you start on a good note.
Of course, if you’re having an online or phone interview, you may not be interacting with as many people, but keep these principles in mind. A positive and polite attitude will go a long way to leaving a first impression that lasts.
5. Practice makes perfect.
A 2009 study shows that a big part of making a good first impression stems from confidence. And the best way to be confident about a job interview is to be prepared!
The more prepared you feel, the less nervous you’ll be. In turn, your body language will be more open and you’ll give off the confident energy of someone who knows what they’re doing.
So do some research on your potential employer and take some time to think of questions they might ask you. Be ready to discuss your work history and skills, and be able to provide examples to back it up.
You’ll also benefit greatly from practicing your answers with someone. If you can, ask a friend or loved one to interview you and give you feedback on your responses.
Of course, there are many ways to prepare for your interview. But the main idea is this: The more you practice, the more open you’ll look, the better you’ll sound, and the more confident you’ll be.
At the end of the day, remember that while you only get one chance to make a first impression, it doesn’t have to be perfect. If you are prepared and professional and keep these 5 tips in mind, no doubt you’ll impress your interviewer!
And if you want some extra interview tips, here are some helpful articles:
- Thank You Email vs. Handwritten Thank You Note
- Tips to Help You Prepare for Your Job Interview
- Staffing Agency Interviews: What You Need to Know
- 5 Reasons Researching an Employer Before an Interview is a Good Idea
- The Ultimate Guide to a Successful Phone Interview
- Five Ways to Nail Your Interview Before the Interview Begins
Additionally, don’t forget that a staffing agency is a great resource. Recruiters want you to be successful and often provide additional support, including interview prep.
How TERRA Can Be a Resource
TERRA Staffing Group is a leading staffing agency, headquartered in the Pacific Northwest. We work with many companies across a variety of industries in the Seattle-Puget Sound, Portland, Phoenix, and Denver-Metro areas.
Our expert recruiters are waiting to speak with you! Getting started with us is simple. Just check out our current job openings.
Don’t see what you’re looking for? Call us today. We’d love to help you find the right fit.
(Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.)