A successful job interview is a give and take between two people. The interviewer is trying to determine if you’re the right fit for the company, and you’re trying to decide if the company is the right fit for you. Still, before you even get into the back and forth, you have just moments to make a first impression.
Here are four tips to ensure your interview gets off on the right foot.
Time Your Arrival
“Early is on time, on time is late, and late is fired.” Or in this case, late is not hired. You don’t want to be so early you’re awkwardly hanging around the lobby, but it’s best to leave yourself enough time to get a drink of water, use the restroom or do some relaxing breathing exercises. Five to ten minutes early is generally the sweet spot.
If you absolutely can’t avoid running late, call as soon as you know you won’t be on time. Interviewers understand that life happens, but they will appreciate your being respectful of their time.
Look the Part
You may have heard the suggestion to dress for the job you want. Even in today’s more casual office environment, dressing a couple of notches up for your interview will go a long way toward selling yourself as a put-together professional. Bring only what you need, preferably organized in a briefcase or portfolio. Make sure you have a copy of your resume and a pen. Toss your coffee cup and spit out your gum before you enter the building, and be sure to put your phone away.
Be Polite to Everyone
From the receptionist to the custodian, smile and say hello to everyone you meet. Some hiring managers ask employees about their interactions with interviewees, so a friendly demeanor could help you get the job. Even if it doesn’t affect the hiring decision, putting your best self out there from the moment you enter the building will ensure you don’t have to scramble to get into “interview mode.” Besides, it’s just a nice thing to do.
Make a Connection
Many interviewees stand around awkwardly waiting for the interviewer to initiate a handshake. It’s fine to make the first move, which projects confidence and excitement. Then find a way to make a quick personal connection. Ask the interviewer about something you see in the office, or about how long they lived in the area; and then try to connect the answer to something in your own life. That tiny human connection will set you apart from the pack and get the interview off to an excellent start.
Your first impression may or may not help you land the job, but it sets the stage for the interview to go as well as possible. In a crowded field of candidates, it’s well worth the effort to create a strong first impression.