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While the study found that 4.9% do make snap decisions, 69.9% took longer and just over 22% decided after the interview ended.
While the often-quoted ‘fact’ that interviewers make a hiring decision within the first four minutes has largely been debunked, newer research shows that interviewers take longer.
However long the interviewer takes to decide, there’s no doubt that you get one chance to make a first impression in a job interview. And it has to be the best first impression possible.
When it comes to a job interview, you can’t over prepare. From what to wear, to details about the company and role itself, it’s important to take the time to plan ahead.
Dress and appearance
Research shows that people can accurately judge others’ status, politics or personality based on very few appearance cues. In short, what you wear to an interview does matter.
Always wear professional, corporate, formal dress for job interviews. When you land the position, you can then adjust your clothing to fit in with the working environment.
If your appearance isn’t appropriate for the company, role or sector you’re interviewing for, you’re hampering your chances of securing the role. Here’s some key pointers:
- Don’t wear anything that stands out too much
- Swap short-sleeves for long
- Make sure your interview outfit is crease-free
- Shoes should be clean and polished
- Use a briefcase instead of a rucksack or casual handbag
- Don’t forget an umbrella, just in case!
Creating the right impression
From the moment you walk in to the building, assume you’re under assessment. This extends to the way you enter the reception area and what you do while you wait. Stay off your phone, smile at people and stay alert.
The bottom-line is you want to come across as the kind of person who could make a valid and useful contribution to their organisation.
Think about your body language, approachability and facial expression. All of these factors combine to give other people an impression of who you are and what you could be like.
It’s best to arrive at the interview around ten minutes before the scheduled time. When you’re called in, enter the room quickly and confidently. Then, follow this advice:
- Look the interviewer in the eye and go for a positive, but not too firm, handshake
- Smile naturally when it’s clearly appropriate
- Avoid crossing your arms or putting your hands in your pockets
- Look at them when they’re talking, but break your gaze naturally every now and again
- Show you’re interested in what they’re saying with your facial expression
- Speak clearly and slightly slower than usual, but maintain enthusiasm
Questions to prepare for
You’ll be asked questions and you must prepare as best you can. While you can prepare by learning about the company, their overarching brand and who their clients are by using the internet, it’s trickier to prepare for the unexpected.
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Interviewers do ask questions to test your composure and it’s important to stay calm. Be honest, but if you bring up any negative past stories, ensure that you emphasise positive lessons you’ve learned. Popular interview questions they may ask include:
- Why do you want to work here?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What irritates you about the workplace?
- Why did you leave your last employer?
- What don’t you like about your current role?
- How do you feel about working overtime?
- Which tasks don’t you like to do?
- Describe a difficult work situation and how you managed it
Effective questions to ask
You should always come prepared with a list of questions to ask the employer. This will add to your performance so far.
Try the following, as they show you have an enquiring mind and are interested in the firm. Stick to three or four succinct questions:
- How do you review performance?
- What would you expect of me in the first six months?
- Who would I report to and what is the line of authority?
- Is any training required as part of this role?
Video or Skype interviews are increasingly popular and employers tend to use them as a first screening step. You should prepare as if it’s a face-to-face meeting as you still need to make the best first impression. Check out these pointers for help:
- Clear the background of the shot so you don’t have anything that could reflect on you or distract the interviewer
- Only conduct a video interview in a quiet place as the microphone will pick up anything from traffic noise to the washing machine
- Test the sound, picture quality and interview connection before the interview. Try recording yourself beforehand to see how you come across on camera
- Close all other programmes and turn notifications off
- Wear neutral, solid colours such as shades of blue and grey or black.
- Make eye contact with the interviewer on the screen as much as possible
- There may be a slight delay in transmission so wait before you speak.
Ready to make a great first impression at an interview?
Hopefully the above advice should give you some food for thought. Interviews can be daunting, but with a little practise and preparation, you’ll be able to make a great first impression.