In the world of business, first impressions absolutely count. And in many cases the in-person interview is the first chance a job-seeker will get to make a memorable and lasting impression, setting him apart from the crowd. Ultimately, the key to a successful first meeting is preparation, and lots of it.
A successful candidate will begin to take a number of preparatory steps as soon as the interview invitation is extended: revising his personal resume and researching the company. But the journey to securing the job doesn't conclude with the homework stage. The likelihood of success is also contingent on behavior during the meeting itself, from displaying warm body language to saying the right things.
Below is a list of six tips that could bolster a hopeful candidate's chances of nailing an interview:
1. Do the homework and know the company
The homework stage is vital to making a lasting first impression. It's imperative that a candidate has working knowledge of the organization he is applying for. The Huffington Post argued that job seekers should have extensive knowledge of recent developments within the organization, know the names of company executives and have an understanding of the team's mission statement, goals and values. The purpose of having prior knowledge of the company is to generate questions and talking points later on in the interview. If a candidate demonstrates detailed awareness of the corporation it indicates to the interviewer that the he really cares about the job opportunity available.
2. Dress impeccably
For better or worse, appearances count, especially during an initial meeting. Regardless of an organization's day-to-day dress code, interviewers tend to look more favorably on a candidate that goes the extra mile and dresses in business formal wear, CIO asserted. For men this involves a suit and tie, and for women, a pant suit or formal jacket, button-down and skirt. Interviewers are more likely to envision a candidate in a role if they look ready to do business. Furthermore, dressing well again indicates that time and effort has been taken on the part of the candidate to prepare for the meeting.
3. Practice answers and revise resume
A successful candidate will know themselves inside and out, in terms of both work history and marketable skills. Hopefuls should also be sure to spend time crafting impressive responses to potential questions from the interviewer, The Huffington Post detailed. It's important not to sound rehearsed or robotic during the actual interview, though. The best way to avoid this is to build answers from a set of pre-prepared bullet points. That way, it's easy to remember the point while still coming across as natural. The Huffington Post also noted that some common interview questions are designed to be tricky for the candidate: Questions such as "what's your biggest weakness?" or "have you ever been involved in workplace conflict?" are ubiquitous and notoriously hard to answer effectively. That's why, again, preparation is vital. A detailed and well-thought out answer to a sticky question will likely score a candidate brownie points with the interviewer.
"Hopefuls should be sure to spend time crafting impressive responses to potential questions."
4. Check body language
Body language goes a long way to either helping or hindering a first impression. Negative body language can include habits such as knuckle cracking or pen tapping, Business Insider stated. It also includes certain behaviors or mannerisms such as arm crossing, neglecting to smile or refusing to make eye contact. Even if a candidate is qualified and looks good on paper, negative body language can undermine a successful interview. Conversely, positive or warm body language can be have a terrific effect on a first meeting: A firm hand-shake, plenty of eye contact, smiles and a friendly disposition are all encouraged. Warm body language can also be enhanced with friendly small talk. That's not to say that a candidate should go wildly off topic when speaking, but an attempt to establish a friendly rapport can certainly help make a memorable impression.
5. Ask lots of questions
Interviewers tend to be impressed when a candidate asks plenty of questions about the company and the expectations of the job. It not only demonstrates an interest in the organization, but it also allows both parties to ascertain if the position would be a good fit for all involved, Huffington Post noted. After all, interviews are also an opportunity for a candidate to decide if he would actually be able to meet the demands of the position in question.
6. Send a follow up note
Undercover Recruiter asserted that a handwritten follow up letter, or alternatively an email, is an effective way to thank the employer again after the interview. The note works to create a lasting and positive final impression.