How to enhance the first 5 minutes of a job interview
The first moments of your interview can have a decisive impact on how the rest of the process will go. Find out how to successfully start a job interview, and some tips on what to avoid.
1. Remember that the interview begins when you leave home
The interview begins before the handshake. You never know who you might run into on the subway or bus, or walking into the company building.
Your interviewer could be in the same cafeteria line as you, so make sure you project a friendly, confident, and professional air from the moment you leave home.
You will have to make sure that you arrive on time, even before the scheduled time. Give yourself enough time to arrive quietly and be able to take a short break.
Have a chat with the person at reception, silence your mobile phone and take a look at the surroundings of the place – it may be useful for you to have a small conversation later.
Avoid falling into last minute incidents, you want to present yourself as someone calm and organized, not as a nervous and unprepared person.
Read also: 6 signs that it’s time to change jobs
What to avoid:
“Once I overheard someone on the phone outside our building complaining loudly about how early the interview was going to be.
When I got to my next interview I realized that this person was my next candidate. It wasn’t a bright start…”
2. Treat everyone as if they were your interviewer
Make sure you are polite and friendly to everyone you come across during the selection process.
From greeting the person at the reception desk, to the people you share the elevator with, or the people you pass in the office hallway…
These are all points of contact with your potential future employer.
Co-workers often share their impressions of candidates, so make sure everyone you come into contact with has a good impression of you.
What to avoid:
“I like to greet candidates in person. On one occasion, a candidate assumed I was an assistant, he treated me very strangely and rudely asked me to bring him something to drink.
Later he was surprised when he saw that I was the person conducting the interview. What bothered me the most was that he thought he could treat an employee that way.”
3. Make a good first impression about yourself
First impressions are very important, and non-verbal cues sometimes matter more than verbal ones.
The first few minutes of an interview are all about smiling confidently, shaking hands firmly, making eye contact, and generally being happy to be there, showing that you want the job.
Lean in slightly, arch your eyebrows slightly, and wait to be invited to sit down. In everything you do project an attitude of energy, enthusiasm and interest.
Dress for the occasion, try to adapt your style to that of the company for which you are going to be interviewed.
Through their website or their social media channels you can get a good idea of the type of clothing that is appropriate for the company.
You can find this information in the content about their corporate culture and, in addition, the recruiter can also advise you before the interview.
Sure you want to project your personality and charisma, but you also want to feel comfortable, if you have any doubts, always opt for the more formal side.
What to avoid:
“I once interviewed a candidate who had ordered a glass of water while waiting. The glass was ice cold and must have spilled over just before I met him, so my first impression was a cold, wet handshake.
So, if you order something to drink before the interview, always hold your glass in your left hand.”
4. Be prepared to have a small initial conversation
Getting the conversation right can have big consequences. This first talk can build the affinity necessary to start generating that “chemistry” that characterizes all effective business relationships.
As part of preparing for your interview, it’s a good idea to think ahead of time about some potential topics that may come up to help keep the conversation flowing and natural.
The key is to get to the topics where you have a common interest with the interviewer or the company, so that you are able to ask and answer questions in a credible way.
For example, if you see a photo of the interviewer’s family, perhaps you could ask about them and be prepared with a family anecdote of your own.
Or if you’re a fan of a sport and you see signs that your interviewer is too, you could ask a suitable question for which you have an interesting answer (“Who do you think will win the cup this year?”).
Also think about some current issues. For example, has the company you are interviewing for recently been featured in the media?
Or you could ask about the potential impact on the company of something recent, like a serious malware attack. In each case, make sure you have an interesting idea about the topic to contribute as well.
What to avoid:
“A candidate I interviewed recently asked me endless questions about my family, work, company, some news topics, asked me about all sorts of things.
He didn’t really have much to say, and he didn’t wait to hear my answers before Asking the following questions only showed me that he was anxious and a poor listener.”
5. Focus on 3 key messages from the beginning
Politicians are recommended to communicate a maximum of three key messages to the media, messages to which they must abide and which they must influence throughout their speech.
Similarly, it is a good idea to have two or three key points about what you have to offer and what you are looking for, for example:
“I am ready for the challenge of managing a team”, “I combine knowledge of the area with experience technical”, “in my career I have developed an extensive skill in digital transformation”.
These will be the three key points that you want your interviewer to remember about you. So he tries to naturally repeat them whenever you can, even in the first few minutes of the interview.
It’s also important to have a ready answer to the most common questions: “Tell me why you want this job” or “Do you understand what this position entails?”
What to avoid:
“I always start by asking the interviewee to explain what our company does. This seemingly simple question is hard for many to answer. they haven’t had time to do any prior research.
But if you can’t provide a firm explanation about what the company does and why you’re hiring, the interviewer can only conclude that you’re not really concerned about the position.”
First impressions count
- Various surveys highlight the importance of making a good impression during the first few minutes of a job interview:
- 6 in 10 managers agree that the way a candidate dresses has a big impact on their hiring (source: monster.co.uk survey).
- 33% of bosses say they know if they are going to hire someone within the first 90 seconds of the interview (source: Classes and Careers).
- It can take a person between 1 and 10 seconds to form an impression of your confidence level – and that impression rarely changes later (source: Psychological Science).
- Maintaining eye contact with your interlocutor can help them perceive you as more intelligent (source: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin).
- The most conservative colors, such as blue and black, will be the safest bet when it comes to your clothing according to a survey of more than 2,000 search and selection professionals.
- Orange is the worst! (source: CareerBuilder).