Acing the First Five Minutes of an Interview

Acing the First Five Minutes of an Interview

First Impressions count. This is especially true when you are in an interview situation. How you look, what you say or don’t say can make a difference in getting to the next level in the interview process, where every interview counts!

Those who have mastered the interview process get the job more readily than people who do not present themselves well. For some, this comes naturally, but for most of us, it takes preparation. Even if you are a good communicator, many people freeze when they are in front of a hiring manager.

Hiring managers have a way of making us nervous because they stand between us and a job we need or want. Get used to interviewing because companies often will have you meet six to eight people before making a decision to hire you. One bad interview can cost you the job.

Proficient interviewing takes practice, but mostly it takes focus and a willingness to look at yourself in the mirror and access what you need to change.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Have a friend or family member take a video of you entering the room. Easily accomplished with a smart phone. Put on your interview attire and pretend you are walking into an office. Take 2 minute clips and watch how you walk, what you are wearing and the vibes you are giving.
  • Remember that an interview begins the minute you walk into an office where you are interviewing.  You never know who is watching you enter the office. When you are waiting, don’t use your phone. Take out a trade magazine that applies to your field of work.
  • Be polite to the receptionist. Arrive five to ten minutes early and use the bathroom. Check out your hair to make sure it isn’t sticking straight up or if you have toothpaste on your jacket. Use some mouth wash. Our throats become dry when we are nervous which can lead to bad breath.
  • Come prepared to your interview with a few talking points that ties into the position you are applying for and how it relates to your experience.
  • When you meet a hiring manager, look at them directly in the eye, and say, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Follow their lead into their office or conference room and smile. Look happy and confident even if you are not.
  • Listen, listen and listen, more. Not all hiring managers are adept at interviewing, so listen closely to what they are asking and don’t get side tracked. Make them feel comfortable. If you look relaxed, they will be, too.
  • At the end of the interview, if they haven’t already told you, ask them what “next steps” would be if they decided to continue talking to you. It is a reasonable request that most hiring managers accept.

If you have command of who you are and what value you can offer the company you are interviewing with, the better you will interview. Nothing beats knowledge, so do your research on the company you are planning on working at and know what skill set you can offer them.  In the end, you may not get the job for various reasons, but they will remember you and may call you back in when another position opens up. Make every interview count!

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