The Interview First Impression
Despite the best of intentions, a snap judgment happens in a flash. Especially in a job interview. Often unintentionally we assess someone based on what they are wearing, how they choose their words, or the body language they display. This level of assessment is such an ingrained element of human nature it can be difficult to separate the snap judgment from the truth. Even trickier is separating these judgments from elements of our own personality.
For example, if you’re someone who makes the effort to arrive to any appointment at least 5-10 minutes before the appointment, you might judge someone who shows up on time as late by comparison. The tricky part is knowing there are a number of unspoken rules that come into play during critical first-impression moments like a first date or in the initial moments of a job interview. Knowing the universal “rules” of engagement in these critical moments can often make or break the first impression you present to a stranger. In the case of a job interview, a first impression takes less than five minutes, according to a release from CareerBuilder.
Unsaid aspects of the Interview
You might be wondering what could possibly happen in five minutes, particularly if no words are involved. For starters, consider the approach to the building or office where the interview will take place. Did you walk confidently toward the office or was your head dropped, frantically typing on your phone? In this brief moment anyone watching this approach could be thinking a) this person looks prepared and confident or b) this person is more interested in what’s happening on a mobile device than on the interview directly ahead. As soon as you are literally visible, people are making assessments and judgments. This could be anyone from the receptionist manning the front desk or the staffing recruiter who unknowingly rides up in the same elevator as you to the lobby. While you might feel this need to be present and aware pre-interview is unfair, it’s actually great preparation for working with clients and co-workers where first impressions always matter.
Little Details Add Up
- Be considerate, whether that’s holding the door or waiting for a natural pause in a conversation
- Greet everyone with a smile
- Showcase your skills by demonstrating how they will help the company
- Leave distractions behind, no one needs their cell phone during an interview
- Show appreciation through a follow-up email and/or handwritten thank you note
Human to Human
It matters little which side of the interview desk you sit. Whether you’re in the role of interviewer or interviewee, everyone wants to receive respect and consideration. Some of the best ways to demonstrate this is by listening and having good eye contact during a conversation. Both of these non-verbal actions show you care about the conversation and you’re looking to make a connection with the other person. Without this combination, how can you know what the other person is talking about if you aren’t listening and seeing their body language? If these things don’t occur during the interview, there is no promise they will happen on the job. These “soft” skills are just as important, if not more, than having the “right” answers to interview questions. If these skills aren’t comfortable, consider practicing them before your next interview. You’ll be glad that you did!
This article is brought to you by Staffing Kansas City, a full-service Kansas City employment agency that provides contract-to-hire, direct hire and temporary employment placement services.