When attempting to land a job, it is vital that during the first interview you make a good impression and that you make it fast. There are many actions that need to be completed before, after, and during the interview to make it successful.
Research the Company
Begin by looking up generic questions that are asked at interviews such as "What qualities would you bring to the company?" or "What made you decide to apply here?" Then research a little about the company as that will help you in preparing direct answers to the generic questions. Put some thought into your answers ahead of time and also think about questions you would like to ask the interviewer about the company. Consider writing down these questions in a small notebook that you bring with you to the interview so they will not be forgotten (Medley, H. Anthony).
Dress for Success
Making a good first impression with your interviewer is pivotal. This starts out at home before the interview. Make sure you choose a conservative outfit, preferably dark or neutral colors. Shoes should match the outfit but no high heels or sneakers should be worn. For women, there should be no cleavage showing and, if you choose to wear a skirt instead of a pantsuit, the skirt should cover your knees even when you are sitting down. Males should be cleanly shaven and wear a suit, a dress shirt, and a tie (Bolles, Richard Nelson). The close attention to your clothing choice shows your interviewer that you are a professional and willing to work in a professional setting. It is better to dress more formally for the interview than under dress.
Meeting the Interviewer
The first thirty seconds of meeting with the interviewer are the most important (10 Tips For Job Interview Success). People make their initial judgment during this time and these judgments often last. The interviewer will make assumptions about you just seconds after shaking your hand. It is your job to make sure that these assumptions are good.
Be sure to arrive on time to your interview; even a few minutes early would not hurt, but do not be late. Being late immediately gives a bad impression to your interviewer. Practice good manners by saying “sir” or “ma’am” and have a firm, confident handshake (Medley, H. Anthony). It is best to start off on a good note with the person who is standing between you and the job you want.
During the actual interview, be enthusiastic about getting the job offer, but do not fake enthusiasm. This will be noticeable to the interviewer. Have a copy of your résumé ready in case the interviewer would like to review it. Be able to explain your past jobs and activities that you have participated in. Speak with inflections in your voice so that you do not bore your interviewer. On this note, do not talk for more than a few short minutes at a time in answering questions (Medley, H. Anthony). A successful interview is more of a conversation than an interrogation.
Addressing Previous, Negative Job Experiences
If you left a previous job for a negative reason such as having too many sick days or a bad dispute with a previous coworker, you need to be able to explain this without making yourself look bad. Do not bring up the topic unless the interviewer does. Take the negative and put a positive spin on it. Whatever you do though, do not fabricate any stories about the incident. Never speak badly about a previous employer. This will reflect badly upon you and make you look like a disloyal employee (Bolles, Richard Nelson). They will question whether or not you would be trustworthy if they hired you.
It is okay to take a minute after being asked a question to gather your thoughts. In fact, this is often better because it stops you from simple answers and allows you to form a more thorough answer. Make sure to ask your questions about the company (the ones you wrote into your small notebook). Keep in mind that the interviewer is determining if you are the right candidate for the position, but you are also figuring out if the company is a good fit for you.
Keep your confidence throughout the whole interview. When it is over, make sure you get your interviewer’s business card. If that is not possible, at least make sure you know his or her name and write it down so you do not forget later.
Say Thank You
Send a thank you note within a day or two to your interviewer thanking them for the time they gave you and reiterating your desire to work for the company. At the very least send a thank you e-mail to them (Medley, H. Anthony). This small message shows that you appreciate them and respect the company. This will leave another good impression on the interviewer and help you stand out from other candidates that were interviewed for the same position.
Remember That the Small Things Do Count!
Your education and past experiences are important, but it is the small things, such as how you present yourself, that will really influence whether you land the job in the end.
Learn more about resume writing, interviewing, job search and career change.