First Impressions Count

I had tried to think of an interesting subtitle to this blog, but actually, I think the title says it all. First impressions count in any interview situation (and, by the way, this is as much for hiring managers as well as applicants, but this blog will focus on the latter).

All too often, you will hear horror stories from managers and us in HR/Recruitment, of candidates who clearly have not made the right first impression – you can read about these in other blogs and articles I am sure – so, I want to focus on some useful tips for candidates to remember in their preparation for interview/video interview.

First point though – human beings make snap decisions – deal with it – the best you can do is prepare, prepare and prepare.

Here are my tips (you can agree/disagree as you like!) for creating the right first impression:
 PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE

 Prepare for the role – know the role specification, match your skills, have examples

 Prepare for the interview – know the panel, practice answers*, have some questions

 Prepare on the Company – know the industry, the competition, the challenges**

 Practice the route to the interview beforehand if you can, or print the route off

 Arrive on time, with a little to spare to make sure you are calm and fresh

 Make sure your mobile is charged and you have all the contact numbers you need

 Make sure attire is suitable and smart (know the dress code expected beforehand – if unsure ask what it is!)

 Make sure shoes are clean – only a little thing, but in my view, says a lot

 Good tip – take a small can of deodorant if you can and use a little, about 20 mins before – you will feel better, (don’t use as you arrive as you’ll overpower the panel!)

 Take some mints with you – like the shoes tip, fresh breath does count!***

 Take any notes with you, have your questions scripted – use a small notebook, it comes across as prepared and professional

 Not too firm a handshake when meeting the panel and not too long

 Maintain eye contact, but don’t freak them out by staring too long!

 Keep to your pace (that you have practiced) and don’t be afraid to ask if they can repeat the question

 Smile and enjoy it – REMEMBER – it is your choice to be there, so make the most of it, take it seriously, but enjoy it!

 Did I mention, PREPARE!

*I use a friend for this – you can research Competency Based questions or something similar in a search engine, and pick 10 or so that you think are relevant to the role – just practice some answers and it will give you so much confidence. The questions may not come up in the actual interview, but your answers might still be relevant.

**You are obviously not going to be 100% expert in the company if you are applying from outside the business, but try to make sure you have something like a simple SWOT analysis done beforehand, maybe print off the organisation charts if you can. And if you are applying through an agency – make sure you are getting the briefing you need beforehand.

***though, don’t chew as you meet the panel!

2 thoughts on “First Impressions Count

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