The best first impression tips

It only takes three to five seconds for somebody to form a first impression. Securing an interview isn’t a walk in the park, so the last thing you want to do is give a bad one and lower your chances of being offered the role.

To make sure you stand out as a top candidate, follow our first impression tips.

1. Be on time

Or even better – be early. If you’re late to your job interview, the recruiter’s first impression of you will have been made before you’ve even walked through the door and introduced yourself. Always allow yourself extra travelling time and arrive early. You can use the spare time to review your CV and calm your nerves. Mind Tools offer a useful article about relaxation techniques which are perfect to do just before your interview.

2. Dress the part

65% of bosses said that clothes could be the deciding factor between two near-identical candidates. If the interviewer gave you no dress code information when they called you in for an interview, it’s always best to dress smartly. Even if you know the company has casual work environment, it is always better to be overdressed than under-dressed.

3. Firm handshake

One of the classic first impression tips. A firm handshake shows confidence in yourself and your abilities. Isn’t that what an interview is all about? There are loads of how-to’s across the internet about that all important first handshake, so we’ll keep it simple. Firm, strong but not aggressive, and shake twice.

4. Eye contact

Much like a good handshake, making and maintaining eye contact shows the interviewer that you’re confident. Looking away, or worse – at the ground – gives the impression that you’re weak and submissive and can reflect on their impression of your ability to do the job. It’s a good rule of thumb to always look the person you’re speaking to in the eyes. Try not to over-do it, though. Too much eye contact will make both of you feel uncomfortable! If your interview is being conducted by more than one person, try to switch between them as if you’re talking to everybody rather than just one of them.

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5. Body language

This first impression tip goes hand and hand with numbers 3 and 4, but there are other clues that you might not know you’re doing that give away just how nervous you really feel. Some basic rules: Don’t slouch – sit up straight in the back of your chair. When you’re not sitting up straight, you should be leaning in to show that you’re interested. Remember to uncross your arms so you don’t look defensive and unapproachable. The aim is to keep an open posture. When you’re listening, nod your head so the interviewers know that you’re engaged and interested in what they have to say. Use your body language to show that you’re confident and self-assured.


Do you have any first impression tips? What worked – or didn’t work – for you in your interview?

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