First impressions are critical during the hiring process.
In fact, many executives said they form an opinion about hiring a candidate within 10 minutes, despite spending nearly an hour in the actual interview.
“The job seeker needs to remember that he or she is being assessed from the minute after walking in the door of the company,” says Julie Jansen, career coach and author of “You Want Me to Work with Who?” “The receptionist could make an impromptu comment later to the interviewer about something the candidate did or said.”
Experts recommend the following tips to make the best impression during the opening minutes of a job interview.
Before the Interview
* Ask someone close to you to assess you for body language, appearance and overall demeanor, says Jansen. “Maybe you don’t realize that you twirl your hair on your finger when you’re nervous or that you lick your lips or forget to smile.”
* Dress the way the boss or interviewer would dress. “Any dressier makes you look like you’re trying too hard or are out of sync with that workplace’s culture,” says career expert Marty Nemko, author of “Cool Careers for Dummies.” “To find out what the boss wears, simply ask the person who contacted you to schedule your interview.”
* Get to the interview location early. “Sit in your car and mentally visualize or ‘rehearse’ how you’ll greet the interviewer,” says Richard Phillips, career coach and owner of Advantage Career Solutions in Palo Alto, California. “This is the same thing that slalom skiers do before the race. Envision yourself making a good impression, and chances are you will.”
* Do your homework. Research the company, and learn about its products and services. Read the job description very carefully and know specifically what you have to offer, says Phillips. “Interviewers will quickly write off a candidate as lazy when they don’t have basic and easily available information.”
During the Interview
* Convey enthusiasm. “If the interviewer asks how you are, reply, ‘I’m well and really looking forward to learning about the job and the company,'” says Phillips. “Never tell the interviewer you feel nervous.”
* Ask a wise question early in the interview. “For example, ‘In the end, what is most important in doing this job well?'” says Nemko. “That shows your intelligence and self- confidence in being willing to ask questions early. It also essentially gives you the
answer to the test — it tells you what to stress in the rest of the interview.”
* Tell a “PAR story.” Nemko advises candidates to look for an opportunity in the first few minutes to tell a three-part story. “In a PAR story, you tell of a Problem you faced, how you Approached it, and the positive Resolution.”
* Stick to basic etiquette rules. “Sit up straight, don’t fidget, smile politely, and speak when spoken to,” Phillips concludes. “And don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because the interviewer is informal, you can follow suit. Remember that they’re in their own environment, and you are a guest.”