Job Search Series – Nailing the Interview – Part 5 – That First Impression

12 Hot Tips for Making A Show Stopper of a First Impression

Be Nice to the Receptionist (see Tip 6) and 11 Others

As we continue our Job Search Series after a break for National Etiquette Week and a guest post last week by fellow business etiquette authority John Daly, today’s focus is on providing a show-stopper first impression at the company to which you are interviewing.  Here are a dozen tips and reminders to help you dazzle your interviewer, and progress to the second interview — or to the job:

  1. Arrive Early – Plan to arrive at least 15-20 minutes early to allow time to visit the restroom, freshen up and practice your power poses. In cold or inclement weather, you will have time shed your outerwear, smooth your clothing and compose yourself. Ensure that you have proper directions to the company and check weather, traffic and train reports. Although you arrive early, don’t present yourself to the receptionist earlier than ten minutes prior to your appointment. Use the time in the reception area to read any company bulletins or other reading material; in doing so you will show interest in the company and might come across an additional nugget of helpful information.
  2. Practice Good Posture and Body Language – Stand and sit up straight, square your shoulders and hold your head high. Open up your body and make yourself big, rather than close yourself off and become smaller. Don’t fidget, bite your nails, play with or toss your hair around, cross your leg and shake it, snap and unsnap a pen, drum your fingers on the table, etc.
  3. Turn Off Your Personal Device – Don’t take a chance that your device will distract you or your interviewer. And being fixated on your smartphone while you wait makes you look like everybody else glued to their screens. Dare to be different. Read company material. Exchange pleasantries with the receptionist. Look relaxed, confident and entirely focused on your surroundings. Your attentiveness will be noticed and appreciated.
  4. Dispose Of Your Gum – No one should ever chew gum in public, let alone at a job interview. If you chew, dispose of it before you get anywhere near your interview destination.
  5. Smile – Establish your friendliness and confidence and reduce your stressful feelings by smiling in an easy and genuine manner.
  6. Be Nice to the Receptionist – The receptionist often has the ear of many key staff members who seek the opinions and reactions of this important person. The receptionist, after all, has the opportunity to observe people while they are waiting in the reception room. Be gracious, as well, to all staff that you encounter on your way to meet with your interviewer(s). Any of them could be asked for his or her opinion of you.
  7. Make Eye Contact – This is important when you are listening to or speaking with anyone, but especially your interviewer. Failure to do so could sink your chances.
  8. Get Your Handshake Ready – Remember that your handshake will be remembered long after other memories of your first meeting have faded. Make it firm, dry, warm and brief.
  9. Greet Your Interviewer(s) With Energy and Respect – Stand up when your interviewer approaches you. Again, smile, make eye contact and be ready to shake hands. If you know it, use the interviewer’s name when you greet her or him. Don’t use your interviewer’s first name unless you are invited to do so.
  10. Engage Your Interviewer(s) and Establish Rapport – Don’t behave in a familiar or casual manner, even if you know the interviewer (such as a friend of your family). Maintain your professionalism, observe decorum and show respect. Be genuine and open. If possible and appropriate, subtly and politely point out something that you have in common, such as having attended the same school, living in the same city or neighborhood, vacationed in the same spot or worked for the same company, enjoy similar hobbies, like the same artist or designer, etc. However, don’t force anything; let things evolve naturally and watch for opportunities to connect.
  11. Don’t Raise Red Flags – While you want to be honest and open about your past experience, skills, education and anything that you might have had to clear up in your cover letter, you don’t want to raise any red flags unnecessarily. When answering questions, don’t elaborate unless it’s appropriate to do so. Don’t complain or gossip about anyone or anything — especially a former company or boss.
  12. Stay on Point – The flip side of raising red flags is to stay on point. Avoid going on a tangent when answering a question or raising a point. Don’t interrupt the interviewer, even to say something that you consider to be important. When it’s your turn, clarify your point or ask your question. Stick to the subject at hand and impress your interviewer with your focus, attention and keen interest.

Join me next week as I address those tricky and sticky interview questions!

Until next time,


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