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How to Make a Great First Impression in a Job Interview

Feb 06, 2024

Mastering the First Impression in Your Next Job Interview

During your job interviews, first impressions carry a weight far beyond what many of us might anticipate. Studies have found that within just 7 seconds, interviewers form judgments about candidates, setting the tone for the remainder of the interview. Given the stakes, understanding how to craft an awesome first impression, especially in the common video interview format, is essential. This post uncovers key strategies to ensure you leave a positive and lasting impact in the critical initial moments of your interview.

The Critical First 7 Seconds

Why do these first moments matter so much? A bad first impression is notoriously difficult to reverse. Interviewers, consciously or not, seek to confirm their initial assessment throughout the interview. Hence, mastering the art of the first impression isn't just about starting off on the right foot—it's about setting a positive narrative that flows through the entire interview.

Harnessing Preparation and Environment

Practice Makes Perfect: There's no substitute for rehearsal. Practicing your introduction and early interactions can significantly boost your confidence and performance. Engage a friend or family member to simulate the interview environment and provide feedback.

Optimizing Your Physical Setup: The shift towards video interviews adds layers of technical and environmental considerations to the interview preparation process. Your wifi connection, background, lighting, and camera angle all play pivotal roles in how you're perceived. For instance, ensuring a stable internet connection, choosing a clean and uncluttered background, and arranging for ample, flattering lighting can dramatically improve the visual impression you make. Additionally, positioning your camera at eye level and looking directly at it when speaking fosters a sense of direct engagement with your interviewer.

Personal Presentation: Beyond the Basics

Dressing the Part: Your attire should reflect the culture of the industry you're aiming to join, from tech's casual dress code to the formalities expected in banking or finance. The key is to opt for business casual as a safe default, ensuring your clothes are neat and ironed. Neutral colors tend to be less distracting and convey professionalism.

Grooming and Body Language: Your appearance, from hair to attire, should be meticulously groomed to present a polished image. Furthermore, adopting confident body language, specifically, standing or sitting tall with shoulders back and a genuine smile can significantly influence the interviewer's perception.

Mastering Non-Verbal Cues and Initial Interaction

Engaging Authentically: From the onset, engaging with your interviewer by repeating their name and expressing gratitude for the opportunity to interview sets a positive, respectful tone. Combining this with appropriate eye contact and a warm smile can make a powerful impact in the first few seconds.

Body Language: Conscious control over your body language, including minimizing distracting hand gestures at the beginning, reinforces your words and helps build a connection with the interviewer.

Final Thoughts

Making a great first impression in a job interview is about more than just avoiding negative judgments; it's about actively shaping the interviewer's perception from the moment the interview begins. By focusing on practice, environmental setup, personal presentation, and engaging interaction, you can significantly increase your chances of making those first 7 seconds count.

In today's competitive job market, where video interviews have become the norm, mastering these elements can set you apart from other candidates. Remember, the goal is to leave the interviewer with a strong, positive image of you that resonates long after the interview is over. Good luck!

Check out my YouTube Video on this subject.

For more resources, follow my YouTube channel, visit my blog or sign up on the Practice Interviews website.

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Jeff H. Sipe

Jeff has interviewed over 1000 people in his career and previously spent five years working at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley. You likely found Jeff through YouTube and you will find the same level of dedication in his one on one practice interview sessions.

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