What are some of the best ways to make a great first impression during a job interview? originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question.
The beginning of an interview is about presentation. The executive summary of this article is: be prepared and confident.
Before I get into specifics, I want to remind you of this important fact: we are hoping you're the one. Trying to find the right person for an open position is time consuming and fraught, and while we're looking for our perfect match, all the work this amazing stranger will be doing has been heaped on other folks' desks/forklifts/work vans. We really hope you're the answer to our prayers. You're already halfway there.
1. Be on time.
Make sure you know where you're going and research the likely travel time. Err on the side of being early, but if you're more than 10 minutes early, find something else to do rather than showing up and expecting the hiring manager to drop what she/he is doing to meet you. Too early is very annoying.
2. Be appropriately dressed.
Call ahead or talk to the recruiter/assistant setting up the interview to find out what's expected. Err on the side of dressing up if you're not sure, but focus on appropriate -- showing up in a three-piecer with French cuffs and Italian loafers when you're interviewing for a job pouring building foundations makes you an easy "NO." Wear clothing that fits you well, is appropriate for the climate and role, and doesn't upstage your skills and intellect. Your shoes should be clean, in good condition, reasonably well suited to your outfit, and appropriate for the environment in which you'll be interviewing. Wear undergarments. Seriously.
3. Be properly groomed.
Manage your teeth, your breath, be freshly bathed, make sure your hair is neatly styled and not in need of a trim, manage those nose spiders and wild eyebrows (you know who you are), and keep cologne, perfume, make up, and accessories understated. Keep your nails clean and well maintained (no chipping polish, no jagged claws, and gents should give those things a trim). Don't chew things during the interview (your nails, a toothpick, gum, tobacco -- you're not a ruminant).
4. Know the names of the people with whom you'll be speaking, and use their name once (but not multiple times).
If you're introduced to others, do what you can to remember their names, and ask what their role is if you're not clear. Smile -- you're glad to meet them!
5. Assume a confident, friendly posture.
Keep yourself open, keep your head up, look around you (but not like you're watching for enemy snipers), and make friendly eye contact to acknowledge the people around you/passing by. Don't be cocky. Don't assume the receptionist is not an important person. Don't try to make up for nerves with an overdose of blather. It's cool to be nervous, but keep yourself out of the rabbit hole and interact kindly with the people around you.
6. Have any materials, work samples, references, or other items organized and contained.
Bring a folder, case, bag, etc., that is the right size to hold your items, and keep them neat and protected. Do not bring a bunch of loose items, and don't bring a giant beach tote. You're interviewing, not overnighting.
7. Have some intelligent questions ready for your interviewer.
Don't make them answer questions designed to "impress" people; they'll make you look foolish as often as not. Ask sincere questions that speak to what you actually want to know. This means you should do your homework. Know about the company, have a sense of what you need to know in order to decide if it's a good fit, and ask questions that are relevant to those areas. People with no questions make me very, very worried. You're thinking of joining a company you've never seen from the inside, and you have NO questions? Something is wrong.
8. BE YOU.
It's you they'll get if they make you an offer. It's you -- not Interview You, not Trying to Sound Impressive You ... you. Let the "you" come through a little. Not enough to tell potty jokes or talk like a pirate, but enough to help them get a sense of what you're like.
Bonus pro tip: don't eat items that will stink, stain, or give you gas before your interview. Don't drink a bunch of coffee or tea or energy drink just before your interview either, or they'll remember you as Chatty Charlie (or Chatty Cathy).
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