20 Tips to Make a Good First Impression at an Interview

Female candidate at job interview

It takes hiring managers 30 seconds to develop an opinion of you before you’ve even had the chance to mutter a few words or extend your hand for a practised and firm handshake. And, in a stressful environment like a job interview, you literally need to make every second count if you want to leave a good impression and effectively bag yourself that dream job.

But how do you increase your chances of making a good impression so that the interviewer will remember you long after you’ve left the room?

These tips will make sure you’re fully prepared for the initial introduction, leaving no room for error!

1. Be Prepared

Doing your homework and finding out all there is to know about the company is essential when preparing for the interview. As well as doing a bit of stalking on LinkedIn and checking out the company website, you should also look to see if there is any recent press coverage about the company or any financial statements (depending on the role that you are applying for). You’ll be able to incorporate all this information in your well-thought answers, and this will effectively confirm your interest in the company and the role itself.

2. Check Your Online Footprint

Naturally, employers will check your social media profiles to find out a little more about you before your interview. This means that you should review your pages to ensure you have a strong online presence – in other words, it’s time to untag yourself from those boozy pictures from university and give yourself a more professional image!

3. Get the Timing Right

Showing up late to an interview is a big no-no, as you may already know, but showing up ridiculously early can be just as bad, too. The best advice we can give you is to aim to arrive at a reasonable time – experts suggest 10–15 minutes before your interview is scheduled to start. Not only does this speak volumes of your punctuality and professionalism, but it also shows that you’re considerate of your interviewers’ time.

4. Look the Part

It’s a well-known fact that you need to dress for interview success in order to survive those crucial 30 seconds and make a good first impression. That said, make sure you wear something that’s in the line with the company’s dress code – after all, you don’t want to show up wearing a five-piece suit for an interview at an IT startup or shorts and flip-flops at Fortune 500 company! If in doubt, call the HR department or ask your recruiter about the dress code, and wear something appropriate.

5. Bring Only the Essentials

If you’re guilty of carrying around a bag like Mary Poppins everywhere you go, it’s a good idea to clear it out before the big day and only take the essentials with you. After all, you don’t want to have to rummage through a complete and utter mess trying to find your portfolio with receipts flying out of your bag.

6. Put Your Phone Away

We are all guilty of checking our phones whenever we have a spare minute, especially when we’re waiting for something – in line at the supermarket, in a waiting room, on the bus, etc. However, when you’re waiting to be seen by the hiring manager, avoid checking your phone – you don’t want to be caught red-handed when your interviewer approaches you out of nowhere.

7. Smile

There’s no better way to greet your interviewer than with a genuine, sweet smile. It makes you appear approachable, likeable and friendly, and it will instantly make the hiring manager warm to you. It’s also scientifically proven that smiling relaxes your nerves and sends feel-good chemicals to your brain, giving you a few seconds to gather yourself.

8. Offer a Firm Handshake

The most important moment of the initial introduction is the handshake, and I bet you’re thinking things like: ‘What if my grip is too hard?’ and ‘Should I reach out first?’ The trick is to offer a firm handshake that oozes confidence and if the interviewer doesn’t reach out first, don’t be shy to outstretch your arm out of goodwill. Also, make sure you dry your hands before you go in for the handshake. Sweaty palms are a huge turn-off!

9. Maintain Eye Contact

Eye contact is essential for any type of personal interaction, especially when it comes to a conversation that can change your career. Show the hiring manager that you’re fully engaged in the moment and look them in the eyes when they’re talking to you. Remember: it’s extremely rude if your eyes wander around the room and look anywhere but the interviewer – and rest assured that you’ll lose any chance of getting through to the next stage of the hiring process.

10. Remember Your Interviewers’ Names

You’ve memorised the name of the person you’ve been communicating with by email, but if you’re awful with names and another two people enter the room, it’s a good idea to make a note of their names and to use then a couple of times throughout the meeting. This will effectively help you remember them more easily, especially when it’s time to send that all too-important ‘thank you’ letter.

11. Show Your Passion

Employers hire people who are passionate about their job, industry and the company they work for. This effectively means that it’s absolutely vital you demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job you’re interviewing for – especially considering how much of an edge it will give you over the other candidates. And don’t forget to mention you’re a massive follower of what they do (if you are indeed, of course).

12. Be Positive

A positive attitude is like a breath of fresh air for managers. This infectious energy of yours will help you go far in the workplace, especially if you adopt a can-do attitude. Although this may be a little difficult to achieve when you’re dealing with interview nerves, it’s important to demonstrate your positivity and friendliness, and you can do this by telling engaging stories and avoiding making negative comments of former employers.

13. Use Powerful Words

Using the right words at the right time can give you that added edge over the competition. Think of powerful words that show your skills in the workplace, like ‘initiative’ and ‘attention to detail‘, and try to include them in your responses where appropriate.

14. Mind Your Body Language

Your posture and overall body language is extremely important when it comes to an interview – so make sure you stand tall and sit up straight. Also, don’t fold your hands or slouch into your chair; this can demonstrate a lack of confidence, which isn’t something employers actively look for in potential employees.

15. Set an Intention

Giving yourself an intention for the interview can help you focus on the energy you want to have. For example, you can tell yourself that you want an open, relaxed discussion, and this can help you become more comfortable with the idea of an interview.

16. Be Confident

Confidence is key when it comes to meeting your potential employer. You’re there for a reason, and that’s because you have the skills to do the job, so walk into the room with poise knowing that you can pass the interview. That said, be careful you don’t overdo it and come across as arrogant!

17. Don’t Blabber On

Nobody likes a blabbermouth that rambles on about a whole load of nothing, especially during an interview. If you really want to impress the interviewer, make it a point to deliver your answers as short and concisely as possible while demonstrating your abilities and interest in the role. That said, try to avoid using filler words such as ‘um’ and ‘like’ – not only are they annoying but they can also reveal how nervous you are.

18. Bring Your Portfolio

If you don’t have an online portfolio that showcases your techniques and talents, be sure to bring a printed one with you on the day of the interview. Make sure it’s neat in a folder, without any coffee rings or other imperfections.

19. Use Flattery

I don’t mean you should go out of your way and shoot compliments left, right and centre- especially dishonest ones. Instead, be a little more subtle about it. For example, if you walk into a really nice office, let them know how much you admire the workplace décor.

20. Be Yourself

At the end of the day, you need to remain true to who you are and let your personality shine through. Half of the interview will be based on whether you’ll be a good culture fit, so it’s essential for the employer and yourself to see if you’re both a good match for each other.

Once an initial impression is made, it’s often hard to change, so make sure you set the right example from the get-go. And by following these easy tips, you can make a lasting impression before you’ve even had the chance to introduce yourself!

Have you ever made a bad first impression? If so, let us know what happened and if you were able to make a full recovery in the comments section below…