Do First Impressions Really Count?

Here’s the hard truth: 80% of hiring managers will decide within the first 10 minutes of an interview whether to hire you or not. While every second in that interview room might feel like forever, anxiety might affect your responses to your potential employers. Here’s how you can work on the first impression that you’re putting forward.

Do Your Research

Before the big day, find out as much as you can about the company. A few simple clicks on the organisation’s website will usually reveal the company’s history andother useful facts, like their employee headcount, or who’s in charge of the department you’re hoping to work in.

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…And Know Your Interviewer And The Company

With this knowledge, you’ll sound more prepared and stand out as a candidate who is interested in the particular company. Showing interest in the company can also be translated as a “fit” for the company’s culture, boosting your chances of interview success.

Get There On Time

This cannot be stressed enough! Always plan ahead and arrive earlier than the scheduled time. If the interview venue is particularly out of the way, or located in in an area that you’re unfamiliar with, do your research online or go down in person!

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Dress to Impress

The saying “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have” still holds true here. We’ve shared tips on what to wear before; find them in our “5 Things To Remember At Your Job Interview” post here.

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The First Handshake

It may not seem like much, but 60% of employers say that they will judge a candidate based on their handshake.

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Never, ever offer a limp fish/dead fish handshake. Practice until you achieve a firm grip that means business.

Your 30-Second Pitch

Also known as your “elevator pitch”, you should be able to sum up your career history, achievements, and personal qualities within 30 seconds. Who are you? What do you do? Where do you want to go, or what are you looking for? These are the 3 questions that should be answered by the end of your half-minute.

Tips for your pitch include telling stories or anecdotes, eliminating jargon, practicing your pitch on friends and colleagues, and recording yourself on video to spot your own verbal cues and body language. Is your mini-speech interesting enough to captivate your audience? Is it even interesting to yourself? Practice your pitch regularly.

Body Posture

Speaking of body language, this graphic taken from one of our previous blog posts captures the essential body language to-dos during an interview.

Ask The Right Questions

From our post about “Interviewing Your Interviewer”, we mentioned that asking your potential employer questions lays down two things:

“Firstly, when done correctly, the questions you ask confirm your qualifications as a candidate for the position.

Secondly, you are interviewing the employer just as much as the employer is interviewing you. This is your opportunity to find out if this is an organisation where you want to work.”

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More on what questions to ask your interviewer here.

Overall, practice, practice, and practice. You’ve got one shot at what could potentially be the best experience in your career, and now that you know how important the first 10 minutes are, you better start preparing for it!

Interviewing Your Interviewer

When candidates walk into an interview, they forget that they’re there to ask questions as well. Asking the right questions at an interview is important for two reasons:

Firstly, when done correctly, the questions you ask confirm your qualifications as a candidate for the position.

Secondly, you are interviewing the employer just as much as the employer is interviewing you. This is your opportunity to find out if this is an organisation where you want to work.

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3 Things You Want To Achieve

When you ask the right questions, you want to achieve three things:

• Make sure the interviewer has no reservations about you
• Demonstrate your interest in the employer
• Find out if you feel the employer is the right fit for you

There are an infinite number of questions you could ask during a job interview, but if you stay focused on those three goals, the questions should come easily to you.

I recommend preparing three to five questions for each interview, and actually ask three of them.

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The 10 Questions You Might Ask In A Job Interview

1) “What skills and experiences would make an ideal candidate?”
This is a great open-ended question that will have the interviewer put his or her cards on the table and state exactly what the employer is looking for. If the interviewer mentions something you didn’t cover yet, now is your chance.

2) “What is the single largest problem facing your staff and would I be in a position to help you solve this problem?”
This question not only shows that you are immediately thinking about how you can help the team, it also encourages the interviewer to envision you working at the position.

3) “What have you enjoyed most about working here?”
This question allows the interviewer to connect with you on a more personal level, sharing his or her feelings. The answer will also give you unique insight into how satisfied people are with their jobs there. If the interviewer is pained to come up with an answer to your question, it’s a big red flag.

4) “What constitutes success at this position and this firm?”
This question shows your interest in being successful there, and the answer will show you both how to get ahead and whether it is a good fit for you.

5) “Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?”
This question is gutsy. Also, you’ll show that you’re confident in your skills and abilities.

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6) “Do you offer continuing education and professional training?”
This is a great positioning question, showing that you are interested in expanding your knowledge and ultimately growing with the employer.

7) “Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?”
Notice how the question is phrased; it assumes you will get the job. This question also tells you about the people you will interact with on a daily basis, so listen to the answer closely.

8) “What can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?”
This question should be customised for your particular needs. Do your homework on the employer’s site beforehand and mention a new product or service it’s launching to demonstrate your research and interest. The answer to the question will give you a good idea of where the employer is headed.

9) “Who previously held this position?”
This seemingly straightforward question will tell you whether that person was promoted or fired or if he/she quit or retired. That, in turn, will provide a clue to whether: there’s a chance for advancement, employees are unhappy, the place is in turmoil or the employer has workers around your age.

10) “What is the next step in the process?”
This is the essential last question and one you should definitely ask. It shows that you’re interested in moving along in the process and invites the interviewer to tell you how many people are in the running for the position.

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With luck, the answer you’ll hear will be: “There is no next step, you’re hired!”

Adapted from: “10 Job Interview Questions You Should Ask” by Joe Konop for Forbes.com