Forming a first impression of someone takes seconds, and that can feel impossible to nail when you’re in a job interview. Luckily, most hiring managers take more time to form their opinion. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology found that the first 15 minutes are when an impression is made during an interview, and that’s enough time to connect and sell yourself.
We spoke with hiring managers and found out what impresses them. Here are eight things to do to help you land the job.
1. Know that your first impression starts right away
Be careful when waiting for the interviewer to come get you, as the receptionist may get a first impression that he or she will share with the interviewer or hiring manager. Don’t play on your phone, act bored or otherwise unprofessional in any way. Everyone is watching you, sometimes even the cab or driving service that gets you to the interview. I’ve been with firms that ask the receptionist and even the shuttle drivers about their interaction with candidates. If the candidates were anything but courteous, friendly and professional, it many times means they don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. Remember, character is who you are when you think no one is watching.
It sounds simple, but smiling is a powerful part of your first impression. Research from several universities have found that facial appearance affects how we judge someone. “These facial cues are very powerful in shaping interactions, even in the presence of other information,” writes Vivian Zayas, professor of psychology and lead researcher.
Neutral expressions, for example, can hinder a person’s likeability, while people who smile and lean forward a bit come off as being warmer. People see a smiling person as more intelligent, attractive, relaxed, sincere, and reliable than a person who’s not smiling.
Smiling also does some pretty amazing things to your body. It helps decreases the amount of stress-induced hormones circulating through your bloodstream, lowers your blood pressure, and makes you feel more relaxed and happy by stimulating the release of feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain. When others see a smiling face, the reward centers in their brains become activated, releasing the same feel-good neurotransmitters that are already making you feel so great. In short, each time you smile at someone else, both of you will experience activated reward centers and a release of positive chemicals in your brains. So…..SMILE!!
3. Give a firm handshake
If your handshake is weak or if you lack eye contact, it can be challenging to overcome. I am often surprised when meeting otherwise successful and accomplished people who have a limp, ‘dead fish’ kind of handshake.
A good handshake is firm but not excessively so. It doesn’t hurt, but it also leaves the subtle impression of confidence, especially when combined with eye contact and again, a smile. Shaking hands without looking the other person in the eye takes away from the good impression one of trying to create. So always look people in the eye when greeting them, or again when leaving.
4. Start to build rapport
At the greeting stage, try to be the first to initiate conversation. It shows respect and confidence all at once. You should not try to rush or hurry either, as this will appear nervous.
Then balance listening and speaking. Many times, candidates try too hard to say as much as they can in the interview. Most candidates who get an in-person interview have the basic technical skills for the role; it’s the cultural or personality fit that’s important. Do your best not to be nervous and try to connect with the interviewer. Being comfortable and at ease gives them the chance to get to know you, the person, instead of you, the resume/CV.
5. Summarize your experience
Without looking at your resume, be able to tell the hiring manager a summary of your career path. Include factors that influenced your choice of schools, the jobs you took, the moves you made, and the life experiences that make you ready to start a new chapter with your interviewer’s company. Accentuate the areas where you would be a great fit for both sides, for you to join their team. This is often one of the first questions you will be asked, so rehearse your answer and tailor it to fit the situation, yet come across as professional and friendly.
From my experience, if someone cannot give a coherent summary about themselves, then they will have a hard time being an ambassador of their department internally, and a difficult time achieving further success.
6. Share statistics
Before going to the interview, review your career and list your major accomplishments. This is your one chance to shine and sell yourself! There will likely be five finalists for the position, and how good of a light you shine on your experience will make the difference in who gets the offer. Be specific about areas where you were able to save or make the company money, brought in new business, exceeded quota, or reduced turnover.
During the interview, ask exactly what the hiring manager is looking for in a candidate, for this position. Most candidates will talk about what they have done, the prepared candidate can be very specific. They can discuss how they have been highly successful in the past, and how their former company has benefited. For example, ‘We were able to increase the patients per hour by 10% by implementing my strategies and this increased revenue in my clinic by $27,000 the first year and $50,000 the second year” or “by implementing my patient satisfaction survey, we were able to increase patient satisfaction by 25% in one year”.
7. Be willing to be vulnerable
It’s great to be able to showcase your successes, but it’s also important to be able to describe situations where things didn’t work out as planned.
When a candidate describes how they dealt with failure and what they learned from it, it gives a hiring manager insight into a person and how they react in difficult circumstances, giving them an edge over other candidates. Hiring managers realize that life happens and things don’t always go as planned, it’s how we deal with these issues and learn from them that really makes a difference and makes you stand out.
8. Ask great questions
The interview is a two-sided transaction, you are being interviewed, but you are also interviewing them to see if they are a great fit for you and your situation as well. Great questions give candidates information about whether the position is right for them. An example might be, “If I make a change, my goal would be to find a company that I can retire from. Where do you see XYZ company five, 10, 15 years from now? If I do an excellent job, where can I be with your company?” This gets them to thinking about you as more than just a candidate but a possible part of their team. Do your homework and learn as much about the company as you can before you show up for the interview.
Following these great examples won’t guarantee you get the position, but they will go a long way in making sure you present yourself in the best possible light to the company and yourself as well. Being confident and professional while remembering to smile, will make you a lasting impression in their minds.
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About the author:
Linda Newsome offers 22 years’ experience in the Healthcare Recruiting industry and specializes in Physician and mid level staffing. She has worked with all levels of healthcare providers from the basic ancillary staff to the neurosurgeons. She has worked with government contracts, community health centers and all branches of the US Military. Linda’s motto is to do “whatever it takes!” to get what the client and provider need to make sure all parties are excited about their professional future. Linda started Specialized Healthcare Staffing, LLC in 2018 to start building her own future, instead of always building it for other companies.
Linda lives in Killeen, just North of Austin, Texas with her new husband and 7 children. Linda was a licensed foster parent with the State of Texas for 9 years and adopted 5 children, as a single mother, through the foster care system. She believes in always doing what’s right and “paying it forward”. She enjoys spending time helping others and is very involved in her local community. She developed a women’s empowerment group, called “Women, Wealth & Wisdom” and holds quarterly meetings in Central Texas to promote women in business and to help women, be all they can be. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading and playing with her 10 (yes 10) dogs!