Making a great first impression in the first 30 seconds
is the key to successful interviews.
Most people have heard the quote “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”
The moment that a person lays eyes on you, they instantly begin to form an opinion about who you are. Your clothes, your age, your appearance, your gender, your facial expression, your eye movement, your stature, and your posture are judged within seconds and used to make a first impression. All of this happens before you even have a chance to introduce yourself. With all of these factors at play, how do you know which observations hold the most weight in the eyes of an interviewer?
The truth is, they all most likely have a role in how you are perceived, which makes it imperative to approach the first 30 seconds of an interview with confidence, self-awareness, and purpose.
“Your body communicates as well as your mouth. Don’t contradict yourself.” – Allen Ruddock
In only 10 seconds, you have to positively or negatively influence the interviewer’s opinion of you purely based on body language. Nonverbal signals can speak volumes about your confidence, and even your potential work ethic.
Walk with purpose – You don’t want to walk in nervously looking like you don’t know where to go. Find out who you should ask for beforehand so that you can avoid looking unprepared and instead walk with confidence straight up to reception and tell them who you are there to interview with.
Sit/stand up straight – Don’t slouch when you are walking, standing, or sitting. Slouching is a sign of low confidence and immediately gives the impression of laziness. If you don’t have the motivation to hold your body up, how will you ever have the motivation to get the job done?!
Don’t cross your arms – When speaking with an interviewer or even a receptionist, don’t cross your arms in front of your chest. Crossed arms nonverbally say “I am nervous and don’t know what to do with my hands!” Nervousness or defensiveness is not the impression you want to give in an interview. If you have to do something with your hands, clasp them together in a professional manner in your lap and don’t forget to look relaxed!
Make eye contact: This may be the most important part of making that great first impression. Maintaining good eye contact, not only makes you appear confident even when you may not be, but it also makes you appear honest.
Tune-In to Small Talk
An interviewer will often begin by introducing themselves and maybe asking a few ice-breaker questions such as “How was traffic?” or “Were you able to find us alright?”. These types of questions can seem like mindless chatter as you settle into your seats for the interview when in reality the answers you give can impact how the interviewer judges your disposition.
Answer positively – no one likes a negative-nelly so try to answer in a positive way so that your interviewer sees that you can find a silver lining in any situation!
Speak in an even tone at normal volume – It is important that you answer these questions at a regular speaking volume. Some people tend to speak quieter when they become nervous, however, it is important to fight this urge so as not to seem lacking in confidence. It is also important to try not to let your voice waver and give away any indication of nerves. This may be harder for some people but it can really make a difference to an interviewer if you seem convinced that you deserve to be there
Act With Purpose
Hiring managers want to hire people who have purpose. A place to be, things to do, not one second to waste wandering around aimlessly. These are the types of employees that hiring managers seek out.
Walk like you know where you’re going – When you approach your hiring manager for the first time – and every time after that – walk with purpose. Don’t seem sheepish and shy, walk like you know where you are going even if you don’t. This will give you just the right amount of confidence in the eyes of the interviewer.
Act like you already belong – Don’t act like an interviewee, act like you already belong there! Smile and make eye contact because when you act with confidence you feel confident and it will show through.
You only have 30 seconds to make an interviewer feel confident in you – MAKE IT COUNT!
Josh Mangum is the Sr. Director of Corporate Strategy at Search Solution Group and works in our Charlotte headquarters. Josh is responsible for leading efforts to drive increased business by developing short and long term business strategies and executing marketing programs in alignment with the organization’s outcome-based sales approach.