(Columbia) March 15, 2004 - We have all heard that first impressions really do count.
That is why it is important to make a positive, convincing first impression when beginning an interview.
Here are 3 tips to keep you at your best when you first meet your potential employer:
- Dress Professionally - It is crucial to dress appropriately for an interview, looking clean and professional. Your clothes should be clean and pressed, and you should avoid wearing jeans or t-shirts.
- Come on Time and Relaxed - The importance of being a few minutes early for an interview cannot be emphasized enough! Make sure you know exactly how to get there, and allow for extra time for traffic or parking problems. Aim to arrive fifteen minutes early so that you can find the correct area and relax for a few minutes before. Rushing in at the last minute will leave you feeling stressed and anxious - exactly how you don't want to come across!
- Introduce Yourself Confidently - Appearing confidant is extremely important when your employer first lays eyes on you. Smile, and introduce yourself with a firm handshake. Try to make as much eye contact as possible, and show your enthusiasm from the start.
Once you have settled into the interview, you can maximize your chances of success by:
- Following the Interviewer's Lead - The interviewer will set the tone and level of formality for the interview. Do not talk excessively about yourself or try to fill in every gap in the conversation. If the interviewer appears bored - talk less. If he or she seems interested - continue answering in the same manner, giving more detail as needed. Whenever possible, highlight how your skills and experience fit with the position, and how you can contribute to the company's success.
- Ask Intelligent Questions About the Position - Careful preparation is needed in order to ask intelligent, well-researched questions prepared about the position and company. Find out as much information as you can by reviewing the company web site, your network, articles in newspapers and trade journals, and business directories. You can find specific examples of questions to ask in the "Questions you should ask" section of the Interview Experience area.
- Show Your Enthusiasm - Always show your interest and enthusiasm in the position by asking questions, smiling, and being very positive. Ask the employer when the decision will be made, and summarize why you think you are the perfect fit for the job at the end of the interview. Do not brag, but instead highlight how your skills fit with the demands of the position.
After the Interview is Finished:
- Learn From Your Experience - After the interview, try to think objectively about how it went. Decide which areas went well, and where you could improve in future interviews. Jot down a few alternative answers you could have given, and keep these on file for future interview preparation
- Send a Thank-You Note - Many people neglect sending a thank-you note, but it is a must! It serves two purposes. It thanks the employer for their time and allows you to briefly re-state how you are an excellent fit for the position!