We are all aware that first impressions are so important but often candidates are unaware of the first impression at an interview. Sometimes communication with other members of the team prior to an interview can be just as important as your presentation in the interview. Remember you are being assessed at every stage of the process from arranging a parking space, to liaising with a secretary or receptionist through to being welcomed at the front door. Everybody will feedback their thoughts to the hiring Manager.
The Interviewer’s First Impression
For a physical interview you want to demonstrate confidence, strong eye contact and a firm handshake are very important. Getting this right, even though it's a very minor part of the interview, can have a huge impact on how a prospective employer perceives you. For a digital interview, a confident welcoming pleasantry will get you off to a good start.
A slouched or relaxed body posture can often give the wrong impression. It’s important to sit up straight and to relax your shoulders without leaning too far forward or backwards. When answering a question or engaging in conversation, a subtle lean forward can emphasise your interaction in conversation. It’s also important to get the balance of hand gestures right too. Lots of hand gestures can be too much and give the wrong signs and things such as biting your nails or touching your face can suggest that you are nervous. Try to keep your hands calm with subtle movements to emphasise certain points. With both your body language and your hand gestures, it’s a great idea to consider and often replicate the interviewers. In addition to body language and hand gestures remember to keep a positive facial expression and not to give the wrong impression or to give too much away. Smile throughout the interview and use subtle head nods and eyebrow raises to acknowledge certain information and to express your interest.
Talking V Listening
Listening in an interview is so important. The interviewer is going to be constantly feeding you information about the business, the opportunity and the type of person that they are looking for both directly and indirectly. It’s crucial you acknowledge this information and retain it so that you can present yourself in the best possible way and tailor your answers to target the information the interviewer has given you. Often candidates are nervous and this can lead them to talk too much. Do your best not to ramble and do not go in to too much detail. When answering a question keep your responses short but relevant, ensuring you answer the exact question you have been asked each time. Make sure that you use professional language and do not become too over familiar with the interviewer or be cocky, nor over promise in your ability. Ensure you back up your answers with factual examples of where you have achieved or demonstrated the result or attributes the interviewer is looking for.
As per your interview preparation, it’s crucial you ask questions throughout your interview. Typically the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions at the end of the interview and they will be hoping for you to be engaged and to ask them several questions. By not asking questions or saying that they have already been covered can sometimes give the wrong impression. By asking questions, it will allow you to get a real feel for the people, business or vacancy. Try to prepare intelligent questions, outside of the box that other candidates may not have thought about.