Let’s be honest – job interviews are hard. No matter how long we have been doing job interviews, there is always something new to learn or something that you can improve on. But if you are new to job interviews or if you only have time to work on one thing, focus on the first 90 seconds of the job interview and the impression that you make.
Many employers admit that they make a decision about a potential employee within the first 90 seconds of the job interview. Yes, the rest of the job interview might be just filler. That doesn’t mean that you can’t fix it ever, but a good percentage of the time, the employer has already decided whether they are going to even consider hiring you or if they are done.
One of the first things an interviewer may try to do is determine how much you actually know about the company. That is why they may ask things like, “Did you have any trouble getting here?” or “Why do you want to work for us?” at the very beginning of the interview. They are checking to see what you actually know about the company.
The handshake is a critical part of the interview. They are checking to see if you will make eye contact with them and if you are confident. If your handshake is lacking, they will assume that you lack the confidence to do the job. If you can’t make eye contact with them it not only shows a lack of confidence but it may indicate that you know you are not right for the job or that you are hiding something. If you are not used to shaking hands, get used to it. Purposefully put yourself into situations where you are expected to shake hands. At the very least, practice with friends and family.
How you dress is another important factor that employers are evaluating when you step through the doors of their office for an interview. Not everyone can own an Armani suit but not everyone needs to. First and foremost, be clean and make sure your clothing is neatly pressed. Ties should be straight, skirts should be no higher than knee length. And one important factor that people often don’t mention is that your clothes should fit! Skip anything that is too tight or too loose.
Other parts of your appearance count, too. Make sure your hair is neat and you are clean. Avoid heavy scents (you never know if your employer will have an allergy). Keep jewelry to a minimum and women should go easy on the makeup.
No matter what else you are prepared for, be sure to walk into an interview looking like you are the perfect person for the job. Stand up straight, be confident about shaking hands, and smile!