Guest Contributor

How Important are First Impressions on Job Interviews

By | Elaine Bennett

People like generalizations. This is because it is nearly impossible to withstand the breadth of information thrown at us otherwise. However, this also means that first impressions really matter, especially in job interviews. The very nature of job interviews is already anxiety-provoking on its own, and worrying about how we come across initially definitely doesn’t help. Many people will underperform in an interview simply because of this overwhelming feeling. However, there are things that you can always do, no matter what, that will allow you to be in your prime during interviews. The first 30 seconds do not have to be a nightmare if you know what to do. Here is everything you need to know about first impressions on job interviews. 

What the research shows

There is strong evidence that suggests that first impressions during the initial stages of the interview do impact the outcomes of the final scores and the follow-up interviews. This is mostly measured based on the initial rapport-building stage where interviewers have a chance to meet candidates outside the scope of any technical questions and formal interview structure. This is not to say that overall competence and skill don’t matter. It simply means that candidates can boost their overall experience and get a higher chance of employment if they leave a good first impression. This begs the question, should rapport-building activities in the initial stages of the interview be removed from the process? According to the researchers; they shouldn’t, because it is a reliable predictor of future performance on the job, especially in jobs that have a high degree of social interaction. 

Work on the essentials

You can leverage this information to flip the script and gain an advantage in interviews. You can maximize your chances if you prepare the right things first. Firstly, make sure to visually represent your professionalism. People do not say that the suit makes a man without a good reason. You do not have to have the most expensive custom-tailored suit in the world. However, it is important to understand that if you find a suit that looks good on you, you will convey that you are orderly and professional. A good suit can also make the wearer feel much more confident. In addition to that, you can leave a strong impact on your interviewers by expressing your professionalism through a good business card design. This is a really important tool when interviewing, especially if you are working as a freelancer, as the very physical prompt of the business card can remind others of you. It can also aid your resume, since interviewers will be able to associate the card with your resume more easily. This can definitely be a powerful reminder of your expertise and skills. 

Improve your body language

In addition to these important details, you should definitely pay attention to your body language as well. Surprisingly, in most scenarios it doesn’t even matter what you say specifically but how you say it. One of the greatest tools at your disposal is definitely your smile. Whatever you say and no matter how tricky it is to answer a question, you can always smile and assuage the situation because it shows that you are able to stay calm and composed even under stress. This can seem somewhat paradoxical. However, you can actually put yourself and others at ease if you simply project a smile. Along with a good smile, you will massively benefit from displaying good body language. The most important indicator of good body language is standing tall and looking people directly in the eyes, it shows that you are open-minded and proactive. You can also make a lasting good impression if you develop a firm and confident handshake.  

Be punctual

Actions do speak louder than words. That is why being on time is one of the best things you can do even before you shake hands with the interviewers. This shows that you respect other people’s and your own time. Being punctual is an extension of professionalism as well, since it shows that you can keep up with deadlines. You can avoid being late if you simply set up alarms ahead of time to remind you to start preparing on time. This can be quite helpful if you have to go to a crowded part of the city with guaranteed traffic jams. 

Come prepared

A lot of the confidence that you require simply comes from repetition and practice. No matter how nerve-wrecking job interviews might seem, they all follow more or less the same pattern. There are sets of questions that you can practice which show up in almost any interview no matter where you go. This is because nearly every job interviewer wants to know whether you posses more or less the same desirable skills. 

You can transform your job interviewing experience if you make a good impression and use it to your advantage. You can do this effectively by: bringing the essentials, improving your body language, being on time and preparing for popular questions.

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