What is the importance of a first impression:
Your first step must be to attract favourable attention to yourself (your application letter or completed application form may have already started the process, but your presence in the interview room is more ‘concrete’). First impressions are very important, and so you must prepare for, and be ready for, the interview.
Your Personal Appearance:
Your personal appearance is most important in creating a good first impression and in attracting favourable attention. A person who is neatly and cleanly attired is likely to be a careful and neat worker; on the other hand, a person who is untidily dressed or whose hair is disheveled, gives the immediate impression that he or she is likely to be an untidy or careless – sloppy – worker. And prospective employers know this!
Therefore, you must ensure that your clothes are clean and well pressed, that your shoes are clean and/or well polished, that your hair is neat and of a modest style – if you are a man and that if you wear a beard and/or moustache, it is neatly trimmed.
Do try to avoid ‘flashy’ or brightly coloured clothes – you may feel them to be in fashion, but the prospective employer may be older and/or more conservative, and so will not be favourably impressed by what he considers to be excessive.
Whatever you do decide to wear must be clean and neat – dirty shirt or blouse sleeve cuffs or collars do not create a good impression of the wearers. The foregoing does not mean that you must always wear new clothes for interviews; but you must pay particular attention to what you do wear.
If it is the custom in your country, or area of it, for men to wear neck-ties, then you should (if a man) wear one – a neat, conservation one, and not a flashy one. Exactly the same applies in the case of jackets. If you are a woman, you should remember that some men may not like to see you wearing ‘slacks’ or trousers; wear what is customarily worn in your country – remember always that you are trying to attract favourable attention, and not attention which offends or repels.
Particular attention must also, of course, be paid to personal hygiene. Finger mails must be clean; dirty or badly bitten finger nails are certainly not attractive. Similarly, brightly or unusually coloured finger nails – or overly long ones – may not be as attractive to other as they may be to you!
Originals of Documents:
All the foregoing points should be attended to before you set off for your interview. In addition, before you set off, be sure that you have with you (and readily available) originals of any certificates/diplomas, letters from former employers, school reports, etc., which you may be called upon to produce during the interview.
It can be very annoying for the prospective employer – as well as embarrassing for you – if you are unable to produce anything asked for, or if the interviewer has to wait whilst you search around in pockets or handbag for what you have been asked to show. Well before the interview, it is a good idea to list down everything which you should do, and everything which you should take with you – and to check your ‘check list’ before you set out.
Wherever possible, try to arrive at the stated place for the interview a few minutes before the stated time – but not too far ahead of the time at which you are expected. It is probable that, after reporting your arrival, you will be asked (by the employer’s secretary or another member of staff) to sit down and wait until the interviewer is ready for you.
Do try to spend the time relaxing; do not fidget or wander around the room, and try to avoid getting into conversation with others in the room (‘competitive’ candidates in particular) unless a member of staff talks to you, in an attempt to help you relax and to suppress any nervousness you may be feeling.
It is worth remembering that a secretary or personal assistant may have some influence on the prospective employer’s final decision, so you must strive to make a favourable impression on him/her as well. If you are a candidate for internal promotion, you may know some of those in the room and so you may have to engage in some conversation, out of politeness. But keep your voice down and do not ‘skylark’.
Entering the Interview room:
When your turn come to be interviewed you will probably be led to the interview room by a member of the staff of the enterprise, or directed where to go. Should you have to go to the room by yourself, make sure that you knock at the door and that you do not open it or enter the room until you are told to ‘come in’.
Close the door quietly behind you – unless you are told to leave it open. Remember to say – politely – ‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon’, as the case may be. If an interviewer wishes to shake hands with you, then respond in kind, but firmly (a weak, limp hand-shake does not create a good impression).
Do not sit until you are invited to do so. When you are seated, sit upright – do not slouch or sprawl or lean to one side in the chair. If possible, try to sit a little away from the interviewer’s desk (in some cases you may be invited to sit in an area away from the desk, perhaps in a comfortable chair by a small table). Do not lean on the interviewer’s desk or place any documents, case or bag on it, unless you are invited to do so.
Throughout the interview you must strive to create
– and to maintain – a good impression of yourself.
Therefore, you must not do – or say – anything disrespectful, or which can be construed as being disrespectful. Do not, for example, eat chewing gum. Similarly, do not fidget, fiddle with your documents, handbags, etc., or gaze around the room. Keep your attention on the interviewer(s) – whose attention will be directed towards you.
The following post is a continuation…