By: Alison Greenland, Freelance Blogger
It's all about first impressions. First impressions are extremely important as they go a long way and can even make up for other lacking areas. A first impression is what the person meeting you remembers most about you and uses as a foundation to judge the kind of person you are. And trust me, they will be judging you.
Keep in mind that people you are meeting for the first time, more specifically employers, don't know what to expect, so their first impression is what's going to fill in the unknown and stay there.
In an interview, where your your resume may lack in qualifications, how well you represent yourself can make a big difference. If an interviewer likes you, they may give you a second chance despite having more qualified candidates that may not have the "it" factor they see in you.
Bad impressions, of course, can end an interview in minutes. Interviewers aren't going to waste time on people who ruin their chances before getting started. They just don't have the time. For instance, wearing the wrong attire will get the interviewer preparing for the next candidate.
So you want them to like you the second contact has been made. The last thing you want to do post-interview is to walk out of there kicking yourself because they may have gotten an inaccurate impression of you based on that instance alone.
This may seem to add all too much pressure on an already stressful affair, but once a good impression is made, it's likely that the rest of the interview will be smooth sailing. Here are some ways to polish up your impression-making skills:
Keep your eye on the prize.
Know what you're setting out to do before meeting people whether it be one, few, or many. As your own spokesperson, think about who it is you want them to meet and focus on maintaining that attitude. It allows you to have a consistent energy that radiates among different people. Determining your approach ahead of time will make it easier when interacting with the person you're talking to. Letting them get to know you as a concrete person translates to them that you are consistent and reliable.
Be aware of your appearance.
You have to be very careful about your choice in how you adorn yourself with accessories. People will take into consideration these extra add-ons on top of your overall dress. For women, make-up should always be subtle--save the glamour for a night on the town. It's good to get a second opinion from other people so you can gauge a variety of tastes. Your appearance is the introduction before the introduction as it says a lot about your personality. In most cases, you want to avoid being over-the-top, but the rule of thumb for most people is to dress business casual. Nice, but not too nice.
It's not only what you say, but how your body says it.
Along with how you look, body language is also very important. Half of your message is relayed throught your speech; the other half, your body. That goes from posture to how you carry yourself, and even the way your body is angled. Just simply being aware of your movements can keep you from sending the wrong message. Even though you may not find your gestures or or body placement a factor they very much are when a person who doesn't know you well is trying to read you. Being conscious of how others may perceive you will keep you from pushing the wrong button whether directly or indirectly.
Engage yourself with others.
When you've got a hold on all the things that pertain to yourself--your attitude, your looks, your presence--it's time to bring it all together for presentation. Being genuine in your approach is a must as people will be able to see if it's there or not. Have an interest in the interviewer or group and be someone that they find interesting as well. It's a simple principle of treating others as you want them to treat you but it's true. If people feel that you really want to get to know them, they'll do the same and in terms of job prospects, this will truly help you.