Acing the First 5 Minutes of Any Job Interview

Scoring a job interview in today’s competitive market isn’t easy, but it also isn’t impossible.

It might interest (or possibly even shock) you to know that hiring managers often form an opinion of you within the first five minutes of you walking into their office.

This tendency to make judgement based on initial observations is such a common occurrence that psychologists have even given it a name – The Halo Effect.

If you’ve done everything possible to create a lasting and favorable first impression, the person interviewing you is more likely to see your successive behaviour in a positive manner.

Whether you realize it or not, you’ve likely experienced the halo effect in your own personal life when meeting someone for the very first time. In certain situations, your initial impression might have been skewed and that could have resulted in you seeing that individual negatively in the future.

This is why it is crucial to do everything you can to create a positive first impression from the moment you walk into a job interview. Everything from the way you shook hands, to the things you say and how you say them has the potential to shape the way a hiring manager sees you – and whether or not they decide to present you with a job offer.

5 Tips to help you succeed in the first 5 minutes

Getting a job interview is difficult enough, especially when the job market is flooded with potential applicants all vying for a limited number of available jobs. But, once you’ve gotten a call for an interview, you need to do everything possible to create a great first impression. Here are a few tips to help you sway the odds in your favour.

  1. Dress for the role you want: Your outward appearance is the very first thing that an interviewer will notice about you. It is important that you look the part – if you aren’t well-dressed or well-groomed, things are not going to go well. This doesn’t mean that you need to throw on your best three piece suit, but you should dress appropriate for the company that you are interviewing with and your clothing and hair should be clean and in good taste.
  2. Be cautious of the wet noodle handshake: We’ve all shaken hands with someone whose handshake felt similar to a limp noodle. Something about it just doesn’t sit well with the receiver. Your handshake should be firm, include one shake and not last longer than a couple of seconds. We weak handshake indicates a lack of confidence and one that is too strong can come off as overbearing.
  3. Be polite and use your manners: You mother wasn’t lying when she said to ‘mind your manners.’ Be polite, be on time and always thank the person interviewing you for their time. If you arrive, and the interviewer is already seated, wait to be given permission to sit. If that permission doesn’t come – ask. Always focus your attention on the interviewer, don’t play with your phone, take notes if you need to, express an interest in the role you are being considered for.
  4. Show them that you are a natural: It’s good to be prepared and to research the company you are interviewing with, but hiring managers will know when you are giving them a canned response. Be natural, speak to your experience. When you are asked questions, be honest, genuine and let your personality come through.
  5. Craft your elevator pitch: The first question that most interviewers will ask is “Tell me about yourself.” This is where your well-planned elevator pitch will come in handy. Remember, the interviewer isn’t asking what the company can do for you – They are asking what you can do for the company. If you struggle to get your point across, resist the urge to ramble.Once you’ve concluded your pitch, stop talking. This silence will indicate that you’ve said everything you intend to say and will signal the interviewer to move on to the next question.

You don’t need to be perfect

If you feel like your interview has gotten off to a less than ideal start, don’t stress about it. You aren’t expected to be perfect. Compose yourself and focus on nailing the rest of the interview. Use this time to highlight your skills and provide examples of what you can offer to the company if they decide to hire you.

If you’re unsure of your interview skills, or you need additional guidance, your People Store recruitment consultant will be happy to provide you with notes and feedback from your initial interview or complete a ‘mock’ interview with you.

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