How to Make a Great First Impression During an Interview

Once your cover letter and resume are effective in getting the hiring manager interested in learning more and inviting you to interview, it’s time to put in the effort to stand out from the other top candidates. The first impression you leave in an interview can be a major deciding factor in whether or not you land the job. Here is how to make a great first impression during an interview:


Master the Fundamentals of Professionalism

Hiring managers want to get a sense of what you would be like as an employee, so ensure you demonstrate that you follow professional standards. 

  • Research the company – it will reflect poorly on you if you show up unprepared without basic background knowledge. 
  • Wear attire that aligns with the company dress code or industry norms. 
  • Show up on time – plan to arrive about 15-20 minutes before your scheduled interview time to give yourself a buffer. 
  • Finally, be pleasant to everyone you come across at the employer before your interview – many otherwise promising candidates have lost out on offers because they were rude or dismissive to support staff. 


Focus on Nonverbal Language 

Subtle mannerisms are often influential for others forming impressions of you – sometimes even more than what you actually say. Be aware of your nonverbal expressions during your interaction with the hiring manager throughout the interview, especially at the very beginning when you are introducing yourself. Maintain eye contact, smile, nod occasionally when the interviewer is speaking, and sit with good posture. Keep your arms/hands in a relaxed position, either resting them on chair arms or on a table to avoid fidgeting or coming across as defensive or uncomfortable. 


Prepare Relevant Examples

Interviewers are more likely to remember and be impressed by stories you tell them, rather than you just stating your strengths. Prepare concise examples of times in the past you have demonstrated in-demand qualifications, including both technical and soft skills (i.e., communication, leadership, teamwork, problem-solving), and use those as the basis of your responses. Not only will this make your responses more memorable to the hiring manager, but they are also stronger evidence of your performance. 


Keep a Positive Tone

Whether you are talking about your previous employers, particular job duties, your weaknesses, or times you have made mistakes in the past, avoid speaking negatively (i.e., describing tasks as “boring” or a past work environment as “toxic.”) Keep a positive tone throughout your interview so you come across as likable and self-aware to your interviewer. Otherwise, you risk seeming disinterested, lacking work ethic, or even bitter. 


Ask Thoughtful Questions

Typically at the conclusion of an interview, the hiring manager will open up the discussion to see if you have any questions. This is not just professional courtesy –  they are assessing the type of employee you are likely to be if hired. Stating that you have no questions for them can convey a lack of enthusiasm for the opportunity, while only asking self-serving questions (such as about time off or perks) can seem arrogant. Leave a strong impression at the end of the interview by asking thoughtful questions about the job or employer itself (such as about success being measured or available professional development opportunities).


Explore New Opportunities

Are you ready to start your job search? The Hire Firm can help! We have nearly three decades of experience in finding the most qualified candidates for employers in New Mexico. Get in touch today to get started.

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