First impressions can play a major role in how an employer perceives you as a candidate. What you say during the first phase of the interview can make a difference in the outcome—in a good way or in a bad way. You don't want to come across as awkward and lacking in social skills. Rather, you'll want to show that you have the professionalism and communication skills to be an asset to the company if hired.
Some hiring managers may even make a decision to reject a candidate based on a poor first impression. For instance, showing up late or checking the phone throughout the interview, can lead the hiring manager to perceive a candidate as having an inability to make a commitment, meet deadlines, focus, and follow-through, which are not qualities that will impress an employer.
Little things make a big difference at this stage of a job search. That's why it's important to pay attention to interview manners and to think through how you will introduce yourself during the job interview.
What to Say When You Arrive at the Interview
Be prepared to make a quick introduction to the person who greets you. When you arrive at the interview site, introduce yourself to the receptionist by stating your name and the reason for your visit.
- My name is Tim Jones, and I have an interview scheduled with John Smith at 2 p.m.
- I'm Janine Bellows, and I have an appointment with Jack Clark at 10 a.m.
Be courteous and respectful to this first contact at the company. Many hiring managers will ask the receptionist for his or her impression of a candidate. If you act rudely or dismissively, you could put yourself out of the running for the job before you even meet with the hiring manager.
What to Say When You Meet the Hiring Manager
You may have to wait a few minutes for your appointment. Then, you will either be escorted to the interview room, or the hiring manager will come out to meet you in the reception area. Even though you have an appointment, take the time to introduce yourself so the interviewer knows who you are.
Stand up if you're seated, and offer to shake hands even if the interviewer doesn't offer their hand first. It's proper etiquette to include a handshake as part of your introduction.
Tell the interviewer that it is a pleasure to meet them, smile, and make eye contact. For example:
- I'm Tina Lionel, it's a pleasure to meet you.
Avoid common interview mistakes, like not paying attention or dressing inappropriately. And if you know that you’re prone to interview stress, avoid a problem by researching the company, preparing for the interview, and practicing positive thinking.
To avoid sweaty palms, stop in the restroom prior to the interview and wash and dry your hands. If that's not feasible, use a tissue to dry off your hands ahead of time.
Introducing Yourself at a Video Interview
When you're interviewing via video, be sure to arrive at the meeting slightly early, so you're sure all your technology is in working order. Arriving late is one of the Zoom interview mistakes you don't want to make.
Look directly at the camera, and try to keep your focus on the camera during the interview. That's how you'll make eye contact with your interviewer. The interviewer will start the meeting by introducing themself. After the interviewer's introduction, you can reply with a simple introduction of your own:
- Hi. I'm Sylvia. It's a pleasure to meet you.
- Hello [interviewer name], I'm Katie, and I'm looking forward to talking with you.
- I'm Jason. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.
Keep Your Introduction Short and Concise
You'll have an opportunity to introduce yourself on an in-depth basis during the interview. Many hiring managers will start an interview with an open-ended question like "Tell me about yourself." The core of your response should focus on the key elements in your background that will enable you to excel in the job for which you are interviewing. Create an elevator pitch and practice it, so you're comfortable describing yourself.
Carefully analyze the job before the interview, so you can point out the interests, skills, experiences, and personal qualities that will enable you to meet or exceed the job and company requirements.
Review answers to “tell me about yourself” questions. Learn the best ways to highlight your skills, experience, and personality without sharing too much information or taking up too much precious interview time.
Focus on Your Qualifications
Your introduction should be concise enough to hold the interest of the interviewer. Generally, a quick recap of your most compelling qualifications will suffice. You could also mention a couple of tidbits that aren't essential to the job but reflect your persona, like the fact that you are an avid skier, have performed at comedy clubs, or collect African art.
Of course, your initial comments should show your enthusiasm for the job and organization. However, don't overdo it or spend too much time talking about yourself. The interviewer has an agenda and time is limited, so keep your introduction brief so you can move on to the next question.
Be Prepared for Follow-Up Questions
The interviewer may follow up on your introduction with more questions, so it's important to remember that you will need to support and expand on whatever assertions you make during your introduction.
Be prepared to provide specific examples of how and where you have utilized your assets to successfully carry out work or volunteer roles, academic projects, or other productive endeavors. One way to provide detailed responses is to use the STAR interview technique to describe your accomplishments and achievements.
You should also be prepared to ask questions during the interview. Have a short list of questions you'd like to know about the job and the company ready to ask the interviewer. Use the interview not only as a chance to highlight your qualifications, but also, to determine whether this job and employer are a good fit for you and your career goals.
Remember Manners Matter at Job Interviews
Regardless of the job you are applying for, you will be expected to act professionally throughout every phase of the interview process, from greeting the interviewer to saying thank you after your interview.
Review job interview etiquette tips for before, during, and after a job interview to ensure that you're minding your manners. Make sure you know what to say, what to bring with you, and how to answer and ask questions politely and professionally to make the best possible impression.