Interview First Impressions

Is it just me, or does it seem like a lot of people these days are not taking job interview appearances and etiquette as seriously as they should? In today’s economy, making a positive and lasting first impression should be the first thing a person considers before venturing into their interview. I can’t figure out how people overlook certain things when preparing for an interview. Don’t people want to stand out from a crowd of other people who might be interviewing for the same position? When it comes to job interviews, first impressions are the key to success.

Before I continue on with the essay, I just wanted to say that I don’t feel very comfortable with creative writing. I have never been much of a ‘school’ person (had a lot of problems in school and just didn’t enjoy it) so please be aware that I’m posting this here handshakein PC-Addicts to share my experience with interviews to hopefully help others. I wrote this a couple years ago when I attempted to begin the process of attaining an Associates degree here at a local college. One semester was enough for me at this time in my life but maybe one day in the future when things settle down I can continue my Associates Degree journey. One of my first classes was English and didn’t realize how much we had to write. I have received a lot of comments/emails from people stating that they found a lot of great help here at PC-Addicts and are learning as much as they can to prepare for an interview and/or to help with their current career. I have a true passion for helping others and hope that this article will help many of you prepare for an upcoming interview. Ok… time to get back to the essay.

Stock-Market-CoinsA key component to job interview success is to be aware of the economy. The reason I think of the economy when I hear someone is going to an interview is because in today’s world unemployment is very high. When unemployment is high, the number of people looking for jobs is also high. If you are applying for an open position somewhere, chances are there are a lot of other people who are also applying for that same position. Wouldn’t you want to stand out from everyone else, leaving good lasting impressions in the minds of the interviewer? This is your opportunity to stand out from everyone. Make it noticeable that you made the extra effort in preparing for the interview and that you are taking both the interview and the potential job position seriously. Two questions I have been asked a lot in the past are, “Why would we hire you over the other twenty applicants and what skills and benefits do you bring to this company?” There are a lot of good and bad answers to these questions. The reason I bring those particular questions up is because they have to do with the economy. Those questions are the same questions the interviewer and the decision makers for the hiring discuss after conducting all of their interviews; keep this in mind when preparing for an interview. Be aware that you are most likely competing against a lot of other people whose goals of making a good first impression are most likely their top priority as well.

Another key to job interview success is your physical appearance. What you wear to your interview says a lot about you and how serious you are about the potential job. If you have done your research and found out what type of attire is required for the

business-suits

position, you should dress as if you are walking into work for your first day in that position. If you are unsure about what to wear, I would suggest overdressing for the position. At one of my previous jobs, I was the Technology Director for a school district and was responsible for interviewing people to work in my department. I was shocked by the way some people had dressed for theinterviews I was conducting. One gentleman I interviewed looked like he had just rolled out of bed. His hair was a mess, and his shirt was badly wrinkled. I’m not suggesting that people should go to all interviews in a full suit, but at the very least you should wear dress pants, dress shoes, and a long-sleeve, button down dress shirt. I also can’t stress enough how strongly I feel about polishing your dress shoes. It takes me about fifteen minutes every couple of weeks to polish my two pairs of dress shoes. Equally important is a haircut. Don’t make the mistake of beard - Shave Before Interviewgoing into an interview with long hair in your face, long sideburns, or something crazy like a mohawk. If you know you have an interview coming up, run down to your favorite barber and get a haircut. Lastly, don’t go overboard with the cologne or perfume. It’s better to not have any than to have too much. You never know if the person you will be meeting would be allergic to it. If it’s too strong, it can also be a distraction from the actual content of the interview.

My last tip for interview success would have to be overall etiquette. This would include having a positive attitude before walking in the door. Put on a smile and greet everyone who crosses your path. I tend to make small talk with the receptionists while waiting for my appointments, just as long as I’m not taking away from them getting their work done. Make sure you show up to your interview on time. There is nothing worse than showing up to your interview late. If something comes up that is going to cause you to be late (or worse, miss it completely), make sure you call Be on timeyour interviewer well in advance to inform them of the situation. Of course that doesn’t start your interview off in the best possible way, but it shows you are considerate and you don’t have a problem communicating to them when something comes up unannounced. I would also suggest you refrain from talking bad about any of your previous employers, fellow employees, and job duties. If you mention you didn’t like your previous boss for whatever reason, the interviewer would think that you might talk bad about them someday to someone else. If you mention you didn’t like a certain job duty or task at your previous job, the interviewer might draw a conclusion that you are not a positive employee who is open to learning new and challenging tasks for the current open position. Eye contact is also very important. A lot of people have a hard time mastering this but is something you should take seriously. Don’t stare the people down, but look them in the eye, listen to what they say, and make them feel like you truly understand what they are asking or saying.

Remember, you are selling yourself during an interview. You want the people interviewing you to see you at your best during this first impression. The last thing you want is to not get a job because of something simple you might have overlooked, such as not ironing your dress shirt, or maybe forgetting to shave. So the next time you have an interview, go the extra mile to stand out from everyone else. Good first impressions are easily attainable if you practice and properly prepare for them.

I want to hear from you! Do you have any tips for others? Maybe you have been the interviewer and have some good stories!

About Chris Davis

Computer / Technology enthusiast. Very passionate about Systems Administration. I enjoy helping others try and reach their goals. You can follow Chris on if you'd like.

Comments

  1. Do you have any tips? Share your tips/stories here by leaving a comment!

  2. amer1canparatrooper says:

    You covered some good bases. I was told once that I said Sir/Ma’am too much and needed to use people’s first names more. My military background taught me upmost respect for everyone and being formal with others was a bit too formal.

    Eye contact when speaking. When you speak, you must always always always look the person in the eye when you answer questions. If your eyes drift away somewhere else, it’s a sure indication that you might be lying. Court judges know this one quite easily. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable, but again, that’s where your confidence about the topic/question comes into place. That’s where the interviewer will know that you are fudging things and will start subtracting points from you.

    Finally, I realize it’s important to research the company you go interview with and have specific questions pertaining to the long term health of the business. If you make sure you bring questions pertaining to the employer, you will add points in effect that you have considered the job to be a long term endeavor and that you are attention to detail.

    Nice narrative Chris. Preparation is everything. Preparation is where opportunity meets.

    • Great tips there! I think I do the same thing with the Sir/Ma’am thing. My Dad is a retired Master Chief so I go used to hearing him say it to people all the time. I should probably work on ways to help me remember people’s names (always been pretty bad with names).

  3. Best advice I think Ive herd from a single person. I would think body language is also important. Crossing your arms I would think is a no no. I haven’t had that many interviews so I’m a rookie.

    • Thank you for the comment. Oh ya.. the ‘crossing the arms’ move is not good as well. Thanks for the reminder/tip (I find myself crossing my arms in meetings then I quickly un-cross them before people notice).

  4. I’ve been in technology a very long time as well. I’ve been searching for a new spot for a few months but I’m old school. I wear a suit and tie no matter the company. I think it just shows respect, not only for yourself but also for the fact that people are taking time out of their day to speak to you and see what you are about. Thank you for your blog and videos, they are really very interesting. One question though if I may ask, how do you evaluate people during a tech interview? Is it that they need to know the answer to all your questions or the fact that they do not necessarily know the answers but are resourceful enough to say, “I don’t know but this is how I would get the answer…”. Thanks again

    • Thank you for the kind words Jeff… they are much appreciated!

      For me, it’s not so important whether or not you know the answer to a technical question. All of that stuff can be learned. A huge thing for me is whether or not I sense the person has a passion for the type of position we are looking for. If the person has a true passion, they will be more willing to want to learn (either while on the clock or at home on their own time) and will want to continue learning to enhance their knowledge and skill-set.

      Another thing I look for is their personality. If the applicant is going to ‘fit in’ the work environment and will represent our department in a professional manner.

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