Everybody knows that “first impressions count” and it’s particularly true of job interviews. I know of several interviewers who have said something along the lines of “I knew he wasn’t right as soon as he walked through the door!” Unfortunately this kind of interviewing is all too common and judging someone in this way is a deeply unfair form of recruitment selection. If this ever happens to you then you can at least console yourself with the thought that you would not want to work for an organization which employs someone who interviews in such an unprofessional way! However it is still true that “first impressions count” and there is a lot that you can do to ensure that those first impressions are good impressions.
Making a great first impression
As advised earlier in this chapter always dress smartly and professionally. Remember that your interview begins the moment you arrive at reception. Greet everyone politely and assume that each person that you meet will asked for his or her opinion of your conduct from the moment you enter the premises. When you enter the interview room do so with confidence. Remember the importance of a firm hand shake and good eye contact. During the interview be sure to listen carefully to the questions before answering and smile and make eye contact with everyone in the room. If there are several interviewers, try to engage with all the interviewers and not just the person who asked the question.
Answer the question
Don’t waffle; stay on track! Try to answer clearly and succinctly. Try to be specific and don’t assume that the interviewer is happy with your answer. Check his or her body language or ask if they would like a more detailed answer.
Remember it’s about you!
If possible try to talk about your personal experience. Don’t use “we” if you can avoid it. The employer will want to know about your personal contribution not your company or your boss or other members of your team. Try to demonstrate the benefit you could bring to the organisation. Where possible give examples of your personal experience that exactly matches the requirements of the job.
Ask your own questions
Take a notepad with you to make notes, and have some questions prepared and demonstrate your preparation by having them in front of you.
At the end of the interview
Before you leave the interview, confirm timescales and next steps, as well as understanding how many other candidates are in the interview process – and remember to say thank you. You may also wish to follow up the interview with an email or letter thanking the interviewer and emphasizing why you feel that you are the right person for the job.