It takes just seven seconds.
I’m sure you are already aware of how important first impressions are. But you may not be aware that the first impression is only a seven-second window of the initial meeting.
This means that when it comes to an interviewing situation, you need to act quickly to make a fabulous first impression. To get remembered and hired, here are seven tips for those first seven seconds and how to keep that positive impression going during the interview.
“When you look good, you feel good.” This has always been my motto and it’s true. You will automatically walk taller, and look more confident, more comfortable and happier.
Appearances really matter in first impressions. This is the first information someone has about you and plays a bigger role in the first meeting than in later ones.
Dress the part and project a professional presence. Employers are seeking people who exude a sense of poise, confidence and competence. Be sure to wear a touch of color – for example a black matching outfit with a red blouse. Red symbolizes confidence and power.
What is your style? This matters, too. A person can usually figure out by your clothes if you have a serious, fun, traditional or progressive look. Your style tells an instant story about you. So, it’s important to make sure to project your story the way you want it to be told. You are your own walking billboard.
It’s important to point out that you don’t have to be good-looking to look good. Beauty is nice, but confidence is what matters. I was once hired based on the confidence that I projected in the interview. My boss said that she was very impressed and wished she had my confidence. As a result, she felt confident that I could do the job.
When you look good, you will feel good and project a positive image that shows your style, poise, and comfort in your own skin.
Walk tall, maintain eye contact, smile and present a firm handshake.
Stay in the moment and listen to the interviewer intently with eye contact. This gives the interviewer the indication that you are focused on the conversation and interested. Focus on what’s being said.
At times, you can use the same information in your answers. Usually the person is giving you information about the position, along with what kind of person they are looking for to fill the role. Making eye contact and nodding makes the interviewer feel comfortable with you.
Don’t forget to smile. A smile represents that you are happy, positive and approachable. This is an invitation to the interviewer to make eye contact.
The handshake impacts your initial impression and should be moderately firm, but not so heavy that the person’s hand is hurting. The firm handshake is seen as more confident and assertive.
Show Your Energy and Ability to Adapt to Change
Employers really do want to hire older workers, but are concerned about their energy level and ability to change focus at a moment’s notice.
Even though at this age we are much calmer than when we were younger, you must show that you still have it – your energy that is. Your energy includes how much you talk, how fast and how loud. You can still have a calming nature, but be involved in conversations for new ideas and thinking.
Competition is fierce and employers are always trying to keep up and think of faster and more innovative ways of doing things. Be involved. When speaking to people, “lean in” or forward. This shows your interest and energy as well.
Employers are also under the impression that we are stuck in our ways and don’t want to change. Show how flexible you are. If you’ve worked for more than one company, that’s a good thing nowadays and shows how resilient you are.
Have a Conversation, Not an Interview
Forget the word interview and think of the time being spent with the interviewer as a conversation. This creates an entirely different mindset. Get to know the interviewer and show interest in what the person is saying.
The interviewer is trying to determine if you are the right “fit” for the position and the company. Yes, your skills are important, but it’s evident that you have the skills because you passed the phone interview. Employers want to make sure you will be able to get along with the immediate team and staff at the company. Do you fit in? Do they feel comfortable with you? Do they like you? This is why having a conversation and getting to know people is important.
Make a Connection
People are comfortable working with someone who has similar interests, lifestyle or who knows some of the same people. For example, I knew a past employee of a company I interviewed with and the interviewer was very fond of her. I also commented on my potential boss’s picture of her granddaughter, and she was so excited that I noticed it hanging on the wall. She proceeded to talk another five minutes about her.
Of course, she couldn’t ask me any questions about my family since that is illegal, but by openly giving her some personal information about my own daughter, she immediately felt we had similar interests with our children.
You can also look around the room and find any pictures that you can comment about to generate a conversation and connection. Show interest in the interviewer as a person, since people like to talk about themselves and want to work with someone with whom they feel they can connect.
Prove Your Worth without Mentioning Salary
Always have prepared questions to ask the interviewer, team and hiring manager. Also, a very important thing to do is to bring any supporting documents to the interview that showcase your accomplishments.
For example, if the position requires you to create a new process, bring the document where you performed that process at another company. Be prepared to leave it with the company and remove any confidential information.
Prove why you are the most qualified and get hired!
How about you? What tips have you used to make a fabulous first impression for an interview? How have you taken steps to improve your first impression during the interview? Please join the conversation.
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