Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How to Make an Outstanding First Impression at an Interview

First Impressions are Lasting Impressions

What do you do to make yourself stand out from the others when interviewing for a job? Perhaps it's a firm handshake... a great smile...a dynamite resume...a unicycle?

When you're wanting to make a lasting impression, you don't have to go over the top with props or gimmicks, just be yourself and follow these recommendations.

The Dos and Don'ts for
 Making an Outstanding Impression 
During a Job Interview

Do be prepared:  

Bring paper, pen and multiple copies of you resume to an interview.

Not so  good: Don't write on my resume. I'm going to need that back before I leave.
Much better:  This is for you. I have additional copies if you need them.

Do be aware of your gestures:  

Make sure that the use of your hands, face and/or shoulders add to the message you are delivering.  Always answer questions with a complete sentence. Words like yeah, uh huh and yup should be avoided as they detract from your professional character.

Not so good: silently shrugging your shoulders when responding to questions asked
Much better:  I'm not really sure how to answer that question. That's something I really need to think about.

Do be conscientious of your body language:

Shifting around in your chair until someone is wondering if you have ants in your pants is an indication that you're wiggling way too much. When seated, sit straight up, plant your feet on the floor place your hands on your lap. A neutral position with good posture is a winner every single time.

Not so good: fidgeting, squirming
Much better: easy, relaxed posture

Do maintain good eye contact:

During an interview, your eyes indicate your confidence, professionalism and level of interest. When you maintain good eye contact, you'll appear likable and you'll feel heard, so keep your eye gaze directed toward the speaker as much as possible.  Learn to monitor your use of eye contact and eye movements, as they are often considered the most impressive of all non-verbal messages. 

Not so good: staring at a clear plastic business card holder
Much better:  maintaining consistent eye contact with the person you're speaking to

Don't make unnecessary comments or insults:  

Be careful not to offend the people you meet- they may be insulted by your remarks.

Not so good:  I think your office is weird.
Much better:  Thank you for inviting me to your office today.

Don't curse: 

Strong language can be offensive and is really never appropriate in a professional setting.

Not so good: Holy sh*t.
Much better:  Oh man. Wow wee. Golly gee.  (Anything is better than cursing.)

Don't be a know it all:

Of course, it's okay to express your professional knowledge when asked, but stopping an interviewer in his/her tracks to let them know you are a genius... not so good

Not so good: Yeah, I already know that.

Much better: Yes, you're right. I agree. I've heard that before. 

Don't share strong opinions:

Remember the old adage- if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Unless asked to do so, keep your opinions to yourself.

Not so good: The people at that company are stupid.

Much better: Silence.

Don't talk bad about the competition, your former boss, your coworkers, etc.  

Just like the Disney song says, it's a small, small world. Because you don't want to burn any bridges,  avoid unfavorable comments whenever possible. You never know, you could be ruining your chances at getting your next job. Negative comments directed toward others often leave you looking like the one with the problem.

Not so good:  That guy was an idiot.  I had problems dealing with him almost every day.
Much better:  I gained some very valuable experience working with him.

What kind of impression to you make when you meet someone new?  Strong communication skills, including good verbal and non-verbal abilities, will help you stand out in a variety of situations. Whether you are interviewing for a new job, a promotion, or college admission, use these tips to make an outstanding first impression...and please, leave the unicycle at home.

If you would like to improve your interviewing techniques or want to enhance your non-verbal communication skills, a professional speech coach can help. Spontaneous Speech Coach offers individual and group sessions. Call us at 361-261-1700 to get more information. We will help you make your first impression a lasting one. 

Job interviews are like first dates. Good impressions count. Awkwardness can occur. Outcomes are unpredictable.