The interview process can be nerve-wracking. To ensure that you make the best of your interview, you want to prepare yourself properly. This doesn’t only entail practicing how to answer possible interview questions. You also need to think about how you will conduct yourself when you first meet the interviewer. I have been through the interview process many times in my life and one of the things that I’ve learned is that first impressions count. If you want to nail your next interview and land the job of your dreams, you need to learn how to impress an interviewer in 30 seconds. To help you get started, I have compiled a short list of tips.
How to impress an interviewer in 30 seconds?
1. Look the Part
Before a word is said by either party, the interviewer will evaluate you visually. Although the importance of appearance may differ, depending on the job, you need to look presentable at all times. When you’re preparing for an interview, it’s super important to do some research on the company where you’re interviewing for a position. Apart from the company’s history, you want to research its culture. Do they have a casual approach or are things more formal?
Your aim should be to dress in an appropriate way. If, for instance, it’s a corporate position you’re interviewing for, you will need to dress in a formal way, while a more casual look may be appropriate if you’re interviewing for a position as a gym instructor.
Regardless of what you’re wearing, though, you need to look neat, clean, and presentable. Don’t just focus on your clothes, though. Consider, for instance, how you style your hair and how much jewelry you choose to wear. It is a no-brainer that an interviewer will form a more positive first impression of you if you’re stylish and professional.
Related Article: What To Wear To A Career Fair On Campus – Tips To Stand Out
2. Body Language
One of the most powerful communication tools you can use, and one which interviewees tend to underestimate, is body language. Before you’ve even said a word, your posture, the way you walk, and how you shake hands can already tell an interviewer quite a lot about the type of person you are. If you’re slouching, have a weak handshake, or don’t make eye contact, an interviewer may think that you lack confidence and energy.
Although you don’t want to pretend to be someone you aren’t — it’s important to always remain your authentic self — aim to project confidence, friendliness, and assertiveness through your body language. Here are a few points to consider:
- Posture: Always try to walk and sit up straight. This means pushing your shoulders back and down and pulling your stomach in. When you’re sitting down, try to lean slightly towards the interviewer to indicate that you’re interested in what they have to say.
- Eye contact: Although you don’t want to stare down an interviewer, ensure that you make eye contact. According to surveys done by Career Builder and Adecco, a lack of eye contact is one of the biggest mistakes a candidate can make when trying to make a positive impression on an interviewer.
- Hand gestures: It’s totally OK to use hand gestures during an interview. Just remain cognizant of your body language. While it’s fine to touch your fingertips or make a hand gesture to emphasize a point, clenching your fists or continuously waving your arms can give an interviewer the impression that you’re nervous or over-confident.
- Fidgeting: While it’s obviously OK to move during an interview, try not to fidget too much. You want to come across as calm and composed and want the interviewer to focus on what you’re saying and not be distracted by constant movement.
3. Have a Friendly Demeanor
Regardless of the position you’re interviewing for, you always need to be friendly. Ensure that you smile, not only with your mouth but also with your eyes. Being friendly is one of the ways in which you can build a good rapport with an interviewer. In fact, it is one of the tried-and-tested ways in which people establish good relationships in their personal and professional lives.
If you approach an interviewer with a smile and give them a firm — but not too firm! — handshake, chances are that you’ll make a good first impression. When you smile, you exude confidence and also come across as approachable and personable.
Also, aim to inject some humor into the interview. Tread carefully, though. You don’t want to come across as unprofessional or over-familiar. However, making an interviewer smile is a sure way to win them over. You obviously don’t want to tell them a joke. But a witty comment here and there can definitely score you some points.
4. Use the Appropriate Tone
It’s important that you take your cues from the interviewer when it comes to the language and tone you use in the interview. As I have stated before, do some research on the company’s culture before your interview. Doing so will provide you with a rough idea of how casual or formal the interviewer’s approach may be.
Once you meet the interviewer, you can gauge what tone and language you should use by looking at and listening to them. Just like the interviewer, you’ll get your first impressions of them within a few seconds after you meet. Aim to mirror the interviewer’s tone as much as you can, without sounding inauthentic or insincere.
This means that if they address you as “Mr.” or “Ms.”, you will also want to address them in this way. However, if they call you by your name and introduce themselves using their first names, you can go ahead and use their first names too. Also, if they have a more casual approach in general, you can mirror this in the tone and language you employ.
5. Be Punctual and Prepared
It’s obviously vital that you arrive on time for your interview. Except if you’re a genius or savant who has a skill that sets you apart from the rest, an interviewer is bound to judge you according to the normal standards of conduct. This includes being punctual. Rushing into an interview with an apology for being late will put you at a disadvantage and is likely to set the tone for the rest of the meeting.
Whether you’re commuting or using public transport, ensure that you’ve considered all possible eventualities when you’re planning for your interview. Factor in things that could go wrong, such as traffic congestion or transport that arrives later than scheduled, and plan your time accordingly. Aim to arrive for your interview about 10 minutes before the time so that you can visit the restroom if need be and compose yourself.
Also, make sure that you’re prepared. Doing so will put you at ease, provide you with more confidence, and will make a good impression on the interviewer. For instance, bring some water with you in case you have a dry mouth before the interview. Also, take your resume and any other relevant documents with you, and hand these over to the interviewer at the start of the interview.
6. Have a Great Pitch Prepared
Once you’ve met the interviewer and sat down, there’s a good chance that one of the first questions they’ll ask is, “So, please tell me a bit about yourself.” This question presents you with a great opportunity to impress the interviewer in the first few seconds of the interview. Since it is the first time the interviewer will hear you speak, apart from the initial greetings, they will certainly form a first impression of you when you answer this question.
Remember to be concise, clear, and to the point. The worst thing you can do is waffle on about your life for minutes on end. Don’t be surprised if you see an interviewer’s eyes glaze over if you start rattling off a long list of your work history and achievements. Although such facts are important, you need to tailor your pitch according to the job description. Focus on what you think the company needs and the value you can add.
Also, focus on what sets you apart from other candidates. It is likely that many other candidates have similar qualifications and/or work experience to you. Think about what you can say that will make the employer sit up and take you seriously. Lastly, allow your personality and authentic self to shine through. Remember, there is just one you in this world. Show the interviewer what makes you tick.
7. Listen and Think Before You Speak
Remember that effective communication is key if you want to make a good impression during an interview, even during the first 30 seconds. A big part of effective communication is listening attentively. Often, when people are nervous, which is inevitable during an interview, they stop listening properly and respond to questions without careful consideration.
Although there is obviously a time limit to an interview, don’t feel rushed when answering an interviewer’s questions. Breathe deeply, listen with attention, and give yourself a few moments before you speak. Doing so will help you provide measured and clear responses that are relevant and to the point.
While HOW you say things is super important during an interview, WHAT you say is equally important. Aim to be honest while also selling yourself. You are the only person who can tell the interviewer that you’re the perfect person for the job. So, be sure to highlight your skills and achievements.