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Five Tips to Make a First Impression that Sets the Right Tone for a Job Interview

By Helene Cavalli on June 26, 2014

Creating the best impression during a job interview goes beyond wearing the right clothing and being able to answer the tough questions.  It’s estimated that job candidates have only two minutes to make an impression which will, in many cases, outweigh what the applicant says.  Recruiters and hiring managers are on the lookout for subtle non-verbal cues that reveal more about the attitude and behaviors prospective employees bring to the job.

In a recent interview in The Washington Post, author Nick Morgan offers leaders tips for improving their interpersonal skills and identified what he calls the “seven power cues of communication.”  While Morgan is specifically addressing leaders, his observations apply to anyone in the job market.  Use these five tips to ensure you’re making an impressive first impression:

  1. First encounters count. Demonstrate respect and courtesy with everyone you meet – from the security guard to the receptionist, to the president of the company.  Interviewers often ask these employees for their feedback on your behavior.
  2. Make eye contact, smile and shake hands. Non-verbal gestures play a dominant role in how we communicate.  Weak handshakes and poor eye contact can put people off.  Mastering the art of shaking hands is your opportunity to build rapport and trust.
  3. Be flexible.  If your interviewer moves the meeting, decides to interview you in the company cafeteria, or accepts a phone call during the interview, smile and go with the flow.  Sometimes an interviewer wants to evaluate your response to last-minute changes and disruptions to test your social skills in an informal environment.
  4. Assume someone is watching. From the moment you pull into the parking lot, you’re on display.  Assume you can be seen from a window or camera. You may be in your car, but don’t let things like smoking, blaring music or parking in someone’s assigned spot become deal breakers.
  5. Watch what your face is revealing.  Avoid negative non-verbal cues such as sighing, yawning, checking your watch or chewing gum. Pay special attention to facial expressions:  even the slightest rolling of the eyes will pull you out of the running.

First impressions last long after the job interview.  Use this to your advantage and consciously project the most confident and professional you.

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