It’s common knowledge that first impressions are important; however, not everybody may be aware that the window for making lasting first impressions is only seven seconds. What does this mean? That those first moments when you arrive for an interview are, essentially, a mini evaluation in their own right.
To make sure you get off on the right foot, VANRATH have pulled together our 7 tips to tick every box in those crucial seven seconds.
Smile.Your prospective new employer will be trying to decode your personality, and a smile is a sure-fire way to show that you are a warm, friendly and willing potential employee. Flashing those pearly whites will also set up a pleasant interview environment: it’s impossible not to return a genuine smile, after all!
Shake their hand. The handshake is the universally acknowledged gesture of professionalism, politeness and confidence. A good handshake is a fine art; you need to strike the balance between a hearty squeeze and a limp grasp. You want the handshake to say "I mean business" and also "I’m co-operative". It never hurts to practise in advance to get it right.It’s also essential that you shake the hand of all interviewers present; greet each individual separately (and genuinely) and you will have successfully presented yourself well.
Introduce yourself.Although your interviewer will already hold a copy of your CV, be sure to introduce yourself when you shake their hand. Your interviewer will respond, in turn, with their own introduction; this helps breaks the tension and gives the first few seconds a bit of structure
Speak clearly.You may be nervous, but be sure that you express yourself properly; try not to mumble or speak too quickly. Instead, be mindful, and answer in a competent and confident way making sure what you say is relevant and appropriate. A good idea is to try and match the tone and pace of your interviewer; psychology calls this ‘mirroring’, and it is claimed that we warm more to people who express themselves in a similar manner to ourselves.
Maintain eye contact.It’s easy to come across as stand offish, nervous or rude when you don’t make eye contact. To ensure a good first impression, lock eyes with the interviewer as soon as you enter the room and hold it whilst you shake hands and introduce yourself. No need to stare them out, but do be sure hold the interviewer’s gaze for at least three seconds at a time throughout the rest of the interview too.
Look smart.Personal appearance is as important as body language and your responses in an interview, so you need your appearance to befit the occasion. Even if the company operates a casual dress code, it is good practice to dress smartly for the interview; you’d much rather be overdressed than seen as scruffy, right? Be sure to remove any extreme piercings and cover any visible tattoos with long sleeves or buttoned up blouses. You’ll be judged on your appearance in the seven seconds, so make sure there is nothing that could hinder their first impression.
Sit down only when invited to do so.After you have shaken everyone’s hand and made formal introductions, the natural next step is to sit down. Wait! It’s likely they’ll say "please sit down" or "take a seat," but don’t just automatically plonk yourself in front of them, as it will appear rude and hasty.. The best plan of action to give them a good first impression of you is to do the ‘meet and greet’ then sit down when you are invited to.
We know it’s a lot to remember and put in to practice-seven seconds pass in the blink of an eye. Rest assured, however, if you follow these tips, you’re in good stead to excel in the rest of your interview.
Want to see VANRATH’s other interview tips? Check them out here
Want to brush up on CV writing? We’ve rounded up our top advice here
Want to see VANRATH’s live roles? Find them here, or call 028 9033 0250 to speak to one of our expert consultants about your next career step.