The most important part of a job interview is the beginning. That’s when you have an opportunity to make a great impression—or a poor one—on your interviewer. In one study, more than 30% of hiring managers decided whether to hire a candidate during the first five minutes of a job interview.
Even if you encounter one of the 70% of hiring managers who take more time than that, it’s still important to set a good tone during the first minutes of a job interview. Keep it up through the rest of the conversation, so you have a good shot at getting a second interview and a job offer.
Quick Tips for Impressing Your Interviewer
Here are some tips on how to impress the hiring team.
Before the Interview
Practice. Review the interview questions that employers most frequently ask and think about how you’ll answer them. Ask a friend to conduct a practice interview to see your skills in action and give feedback on your interview style.
Research the company before you interview. Take the time to research the organization, so you know as much as possible about it. That way, you’ll be prepared to answer questions about what you know about the company.
Get the inside scoop. Besides researching the organization, see if you can get some inside information on the company and its employees. Check LinkedIn, Facebook, and your college alumni network to see if you know anyone who can share insider information with you.
Review the job posting. Learn as much as you can about the job. Review the job posting and know what the employer is looking for in the person they hire. Also, take a look at your cover letter and resume, so you are clear about what you can offer the employer.
Check out the interviewer on LinkedIn. Take a minute or two to check out the interviewer on LinkedIn if you can find them. That will give you a sense of the person you’ll be meeting with, as well as their career path and tenure with the company.
Getting Ready to Interview
Wear appropriate interview attire. It can be awkward if you show up at a job interview overdressed—or underdressed. Always dress appropriately for an interview, so you make the best first impression.
Go light on the perfume or cologne. Some people have sensitivities or allergies to fragrances. Others have strong reactions to scents—and not always positive ones. Make sure the interviewer can focus on your qualifications, not your perfume selection.
Avoid sweaty palms. Nobody wants to touch a slimy, wet hand. If you can visit the restroom on the way to the interview, wash and thoroughly dry your hands. When that’s not possible, use a tissue to make sure your hands are dry.
During the Interview
Take a deep breath. Then another one. Interviews can be stressful. While you’re in the restroom, take a few deep breaths and remember that you’re here because you were chosen to interview.
Greet the interviewer warmly. Introduce yourself by saying hello and shaking hands if appropriate. Make eye contact but be sure not to stare or lock eyes for too long. You want to appear friendly and open.
Smile. Smile when you’re meeting the interviewer and when it’s appropriate during the interview. Positive people with strong interpersonal skills are more likely to be hired.
As with eye contact, it’s possible to overdo a smile. Make sure your grin comes off as friendly by asking for feedback during practice interviews.
Show your enthusiasm. Display your passion for what you do and what you’d like to do in your next job. It’s good to let the interviewer know that you love your work and are excited about this opportunity.
Show how you’re a great fit for the job. Back up your enthusiasm with facts. It’s not enough to say that you’ve got the right stuff for the job. Be specific and show the employer why and how you’re qualified.
Don’t panic. Even if you’ve done all the right prep work, you can be taken off guard by an interview question that you weren’t expecting. Prepare for the worst, so that you can be resilient in the moment.
Share a story or two. Don’t just state your qualifications. Instead, use your storytelling skills to share examples of what you have achieved at work. There’s nothing better than a real-life story to engage your interviewer and show what you can do.
After the Interview
Follow up after the interview. A final way to make the best impression and show you care about this opportunity is to follow up with an email message, note, or phone call. In addition to relaying your thanks for the interview, reiterate why you’re a terrific candidate for the job.