By Dorcas Karuana,
Landing an interview invitation in itself is a cause for celebration, but this does not a guarantee you the job offer. One of the most important things you can do is make a positive impact at your first interview. This means you still have to go in there and impress them. If you make a good first impression, then the rest of the interview might also go well; however, if you don’t make a good first impression, then you will spend the rest of the interview trying to make up for your mistakes.
Standing out from other candidates in an interview session takes careful planning. Your personality doesn’t matter so much: whether you are shy, reserved, scared, nervous, confident, or outgoing. There is an art to making an impression during any face to face interaction that will create a lasting impact.
So what can you do to nail that job interview?
1. Be punctual for a job interview- An employer knows that if you can’t show up on time for a job interview, you can’t do it for work either. Therefore, leave early enough for your interview so you allow time for traffic. Make sure you know how to get to the location. Don’t be late, but don’t be too early. Arrive at least 10 minutes earlier than the scheduled interview. You don’t want to keep them waiting and you don’t want to rush them. It is likely that your interviewer won’t be ready for you until the scheduled time anyway.
2.Dress for Success- Depending on the nature/ type of interview; always look your best. Dress one step above the dress required for the job. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make it a good one. Therefore, you must look professional, confident and competent. Remember, first impressions are formed when the interviewer first sees and greets you. If you look well put together, you give the impression that you take yourself seriously – not in a negative way, but in an I-can-be-relied-upon way.
3. Introduction- First impressions are lasting impressions. Introduce yourself properly and refer to your interviewer by name. When your visual message is positive the person you’ve just met will tend to assume that other aspects about you are equally positive. If your visual message is negative that prospective employer may not spend the time and effort to discover the talented person inside. Also, assess the personality of your interviewer and respond accordingly. Use positive, open body language.
4. Handshake & Eyes: Use a firm handshake and look your interviewer in the eyes. A firm handshake and direct eye contact conveys confidence. If you also smile while doing this, then it is a winning combination. This helps to communicate an energetic and honest image. People who introduce themselves in this way will create a favorable impression even before the first question is asked.
5. Smile- One thing that gives best impression about you is your smile. It is not that you smile only when you feel better. The reverse is also true! You start feeling better when you smile, even if it is a fake one. Your smile releases more endorphins, making you feel more comfortable. Smile often throughout the interview! Smile is contagious and even a frowning interviewer may start smiling in response to your smile.
6. Posture & Poise: When you enter the interview room, walk in with confidence – a quick stride, head up, and shoulders straight. When offered a chance to sit down, use the whole chair and don’t slouch, but sit with your back straight against the back of the chair without your legs crossed. Also, avoid sitting down and crossing your arms or yawning. Good posture will also send a message just as much as any answer you give to a particular question.
7. Body Language- Your body language can convey more than what your speech could convey. Actions like biting your nails, covering your mouth while talking, touching your face, tapping your fingers on the table etc show that you are nervous and feel insensitive. Sit erect and comfortable and rest your palms on your thighs while you are talking.
8. Be prepared for all types of interview questions- When asked a question, think about the question and pause before you answer. Be comfortable with a momentary silence during the thinking process and try to refrain from using “fillers” such as “um” or “uh.” If you just utter out whatever is top of mind, you might not answer the question, and worse, you might also say something that doesn’t make sense. Pausing and then offering a good answer is one way to maintain your poise in the interview.
9. Clarity of Message and short answers- If you think before you speak, you will have better responses. Further, if you have anticipated the likely questions, you might already have prepared answers. Whether you are speaking impromptu or relying on prepared responses, try to keep your answers short and to the point. Short, clear messages add to the image of success and confidence. If you ramble on and on with a convoluted response, then you convey convoluted thinking, not confidence. Use short, clear sentences to respond to questions.
10. Ask questions yourself- At the end of the interview, the interviewer asks if you have any questions. Use this opportunity to know more about the potential employer and make a good impression as well. But don’t ask questions about holidays or salary as it doesn’t show a good attitude during a job interview.
11. At the end of the interview- Be sure to say “thank-you” and show true appreciation. Make your last smile of the hour unforgettable! Don’t leave the interview room in a rush but take your time to smile and thank the interviewer. Follow interview etiquette by sending your interviewer a thank-you letter no more than 24 hours after the interview.
Dorcas is a Recruitment Officer. Corporate Staffing Services. email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web address. www.corporatestaffing.co.ke