First impressions at an interview

First impressions at an interview

When going to a job interview, it is very important to think how you present yourself. There are a few guaranteed ways you can appear as a confident, well presented person. It won’t instantaneously get you the job but looking and behaving a certain way can increase your chances of succeeding.

Appearances can be deceptive

Before you even arrive at the interview, there are a few ways you can help yourself. First, consider what you are wearing. You need to be comfortable but that doesn’t mean going in your jeans or that one big hoodie we all own. Most interviewers like to see their candidates looking smart. All of the items worn should be ironed. Even if a company is known for being relaxed around dress code, the interview is your chance to shine and it always looks better being smart. However, if you’re unsure, then it is perfectly acceptable to ring the company and check with them if they have a preferred dress code for interviewees. A little psychological trick that I have always been told whenever I go for an interview, go for very plain colours or try and link the colours you are wearing to the colours of that company. Subconsciously your interviewer will see you as already belonging at their company.

First impressions at an interview

Stay educated

In the words of Oscar Wilde, “you can never be overdressed or overeducated”. This is a good sentiment to arrive at a job interview with. Being educated about the job doesn’t just mean reading up on the job specifications, but also knowing about the company. So, before you go in, have a quick browse of their website. Note some facts that you can impress the interviewer with, maybe they won a local award, or they’ve just redesigned their website. This demonstrates that you are willing to go above and beyond other candidates. Prepare for the role too, say if it’s for a marketing assistant, they might ask you how you could improve on their current marketing strategy. You need to be aware of what is already in place before you begin. Sounding confident about your answers reassures interviewers that you are a reliable, knowledgeable person.

Make sure you arrive at your interview with plenty of time to spare, you might want to freshen up or it may take you a while to find the right building. When arriving always smile and be polite to everyone, you never know who is in charge and who might be interviewing you. Make sure your phone is away as soon as you enter the building, it doesn’t send the right message to be playing on it. It’s the same with headphones.

First impressions at an interview

First impressions

When arriving at the interview, greet the interviewer with a smile and a handshake. This is the first time they are seeing you and it is that first impression that can help get you the job.  If there is more than one person interviewing you, greet them all equally. Don’t assume anyone in particular is in charge unless they have specified it. It is possible that the interviewee is nervous too so don’t worry too much (think Friends with Rachel interviewing for an assistant).Your body language says as much about you as your appearance does. You want to sit straight upright and meet people in the eye particularly when they are asking you questions. Don’t sit on your hands or hunch forward, this closes people off from you. You may feel nervous, but this is perfectly normal and the more confident you act, the more likely you are to feel better. Remember, you are not the only candidate, you need to set yourself apart, so always think about your answers. Answer slowly, nerves can often make people talk fast. There may be follow up questions so make sure you are confident in what you are saying.

First impressions at an interview

Professional conduct

Asking questions at an interview can seem daunting, however, it is important you go there with some prepared, preferably questions about the company. If they are answered in your interview already, make sure you have some more generic ones lined up such as “what ways can I advance in this role?”. The question of pay is always a sticky one but if you are unsure about it, then you do have a right to ask. Most employers keep it visible and easy to understand however if it is not clear, whether it is how you are paid, or by how much or how often then you need to clarify this. We all need to work for a living and money is an essential factor in this, don’t let it put you off. Asking about sick pay can sometimes be a bit dicey too but there is no hard and fast rule. Always be respectful when asking even if it is not the answer you wanted. Remember that if you are hired, you have more of chance to ask more questionable questions then.

At the end of the interview, make sure you thank everyone for inviting you and offer them all a handshake again. Your conduct is highly important and reveals the way you will treat others at the company.

First impressions at an interview

There will be good interviews and there will be bad interviews. What matters is what you take away from it. If it is successful, great! However, if it is not, then make sure you follow up on the interview and ask what went wrong or what you could have done differently. Every interview is a learning curve for the interviewer and the interviewee.


First impressions at an interview

Helen Rodgers

Lifestyle / Employment Writer. Helen studies Ancient History at the University of Nottingham and writes a weekly article on balancing student and working life.