The First Five Things People Notice About You

There are not many things in life more stressful than a job interview, especially in this economy, where it’s not good enough to be well-qualified. Remember, the only thing more important than making a good first impression is not making a bad one.

With that in mind, here are five things that will definitely make an impression – it’s your job to make that impression a positive one.

1. Greeting

This opportunity is your first chance to meet your interviewer and your last chance to make a first impression, so make it count.

  • Beam a bright smile and say, “Hello, [name of interviewer]. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
  • Extend your right hand for a firm (but not overpowering) handshake.
  • Maintain eye contact as you speak, and show that you are genuinely happy to meet the interviewer.

2. Small Talk

Making small talk isn’t hard, but it can be nerve-wracking at the start of your interview. The best part is it breaks the ice so you can relax a little and feel more comfortable. Be careful not to get carried away, and don’t ramble. Safe topics for discussion include:

  • The weather (cliché but timeless).
  • Traffic (or lack thereof) on your way in.
  • If you live close to the place of business, mention it – your easy access to work is a plus in a job interview.

3. Body Language

How you present yourself as a whole physically is as important as the verbal interview.

  • Sit up straight as you engage in conversation, and keep your elbows off the table.
  • We all use our hands when we speak, but keep the hand gestures to a reasonable level so as not to distract your audience.
  • Again, maintain eye contact; if you are addressing multiple people, try to give everyone equal “eye” time. Look from person to person, but don’t be shifty.
  • Don’t fidget.

4. Dress

In most cases, you’ll want to dress in business casual attire, at a minimum.

  • For more conservative office positions and executive interviews, a dark suit and tie (for men) will probably be expected.
  • Try on what you will wear the night before to be sure it fits well and makes you look your best (and doesn’t have any stains on it!).
  • Make sure shirts are pressed and ties are clean.
  • Shoes may seem unimportant, but you’ll want to put your best foot forward, so shine and buff to clean any scuffs.
  • Wear minimal jewelry: no more than one ring on each hand, a simple necklace (if you choose), and avoid large earrings.

5. Personal Hygiene

You may be thinking, “OK. I know how to clean and make myself presentable.” Of course you do, but this day is big and it’s worth it to take some extra time just to be sure.

  • Perfume or cologne should be extremely light, if worn at all. A strong scent could turn some people off.
  • Wear your hair neat but natural.
  • If you or someone close to you smokes, make sure your clothes and hair don’t advertise it. Clean your clothes and hair, and keep your outfit bagged and away from the smoke until just before the interview.
  • Last, but not least, don’t forget your deodorant.

Make sure you have these five points covered so you can turn your attention to where it belongs: getting that job offer or sealing the deal. And remember, it’s always important to be yourself, but you should strive to be the best version of yourself.

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