They say overall impressions are formed within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone. And a job interview is one of the most important first impressions you will give – so make your first encounter with your prospective employer a positive one by following these important steps.

Arrive early

There is no worse first impression for a job interview than arriving late. Prospective employers will deduce that you have poor time management skills and even worse, that you don’t take interviews seriously or value the company’s time.

Give yourself enough time to arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of the interview. This will ensure that you have ample time to compose yourself and mentally go over any last minute preparation, as well as being ready when they call you in.

If your job interview is being conducted via a video call, ensure you’ve downloaded the platform or software the day before to test it, and join the meeting a few minutes before your interview start time.

Dress professionally

If first impressions are made in the first 30 seconds of meeting someone, dressing appropriately is key to a job interviewer’s initial assessment of you. There’s no harm in asking ahead of time what sort of dress code the company has, but if you aren’t sure, dress conservatively and neatly. Don’t underestimate the importance of an iron and a washing machine.

RELATED: What to wear to a job interview (and other considerations)

Stay cool, calm and collected

Interview nerves are bound to occur, but don't let them overtake you. It’s common to speak too fast when you are particularly nervous, so try to pause after each question before you begin answering. The extra beat will help you compose yourself and prepare exactly what you are going to say. Remember to take deep breaths to keep yourself calm during the process to help centre yourself.

Be conscious of your nerves from the moment you meet your interviewer and use those introduction exchanges to slow your pace and settle in.

Greet your interviewer politely

When the time comes to meet your interviewer, you want to make sure that they remember you. They will be interviewing a number of candidates and so a confident and friendly – but always professional – greeting is particularly important. A firm handshake is imperative, as is eye contact and a smile. During your research you should have memorised the names of those interviewing you, so make sure to greet them by name. This is a key step to impressing your potential new employers in the early stages.

These steps can be adjusted to fit a virtual interview setting, minus the handshake so you’ll need to be extra enthusiastic in your first greeting to ensure you appear pleased to meet them and are happy to be there.

Use positive body language

Once you have made your memorable first impression with a strong handshake, eye contact and a positive smile, you need to carry this on throughout the interview. Make sure you sit upright and keep note of your posture – don’t slouch. This will also help you to breathe better during the interview and ensure you don’t become too relaxed.

Make sure you retain eye contact throughout the interview and try to avoid filling gaps in your answers with “umms” and “ahhs”. Speak with confidence and try not to stumble over your words. If you find you are stumbling over your answers a few times, take a few seconds to pause and recompose.

RELATED: Improve your interview technique

Leave them with a solid goodbye

The way you close an interview is more important than you think. Once the questions are wrapped up and it’s time to leave, make sure to again shake hands with your interviewer, retaining eye contact, smile and thank them for their time to interview you.

If your interview was virtual, you may want to include an additional line about looking forward to hearing back from them about the next stage or mentioning that you will immediately send them any examples of work, if they’ve requested it.

More quick interview tips

  • Know your stuff – go into the interview having read and fully understood the job description. Far too many people waste their time and the company’s time by not fully understanding the role that they are going for. Conduct research to get an idea of what market the business operates in, the products and/or services it sells and its overall strategy, most of which can be found on their company page and through Google searches.
     

  • Make your social media profiles private – if a company is considering you as a potential candidate, they are going to check your profiles on social media. Before an interview, make sure that your profiles are set to private and any inappropriate photos and comments are deleted.
     

  • Practise – in the weeks and days leading up to your interview, practising run-throughs should be at the forefront of your mind. In the shower, walking down the street, it doesn’t matter, just keep on practising your responses, editing where needed and have your examples committed to heart.
     

  • Relax – try your best to compose yourself and remember that this is just a professional conversation, not a personal interrogation. Do some online research to find breathing techniques that can help bring your heart rate down and calm your nerves.
     

  • Ask questions – when you have the chance, always take the opportunity to ask clear and concise questions. Very often the difference between two great candidates can become apparent at this point. It separates those who prepared more than the other, as your questions can demonstrate that you’ve imagined yourself in the role and are thinking about how you can make an immediate impact and work well with your new team.

Stepping up your job search? Talk to a Page Personnel recruitment specialist about opportunities in your field.

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