First Impressions: You Need to Own That S*&%!

The lights are bright. The room is hot. You begin to sweat. The interviewer is late. The nerves have set in.

According to a 2013 survey from Harris Interactive and Everest College, as many as 92 percent of adults in the United States stress over one or more aspects of a job interview. People who responded to the survey cited nervousness as the top issue. Continually, in a survey by Monster where more than 273 managers were asked about their interview process, most said that they make up their mind on the candidate within the first 6 minutes and 25 seconds. With the typical interview lasting 30-45 minutes, your ability to make a good first impression is the difference between landing the job...and not. First impressions really do matter.

All of this information is even more important for entry-level job candidates, where you don’t necessarily have killer experiences to help overcome any early missteps. However, good news: there are things you can do to nail your introduction and create a first and lasting impression. Over the next four weeks, we’ll be looking at some crucial ways to nail the first impression in order to help you land more job offers. First up, the most basic and important:

The Greeting

Here's How:

1. Stand up straight.

2. Smile.

3. Look them in the eye.

4. Extend your hand.

5. Firm handshake, but let’s not cut off circulation.

6. Keep that smile. Don’t go losing that smile quite yet.

7. Use your first and last name to introduce yourself.

8. Sit down, sit up straight, and lean in a touch.

9. Small talk and an introduction - discussed below.

That’s it. Literally. And like anything, perfect practice makes perfect. Practice this, and you’re 80% of the way to creating a great first impression.

Fear Factor Note: Should you not do something like this, you may have already lost the job.

The Introduction: Focus on Who, Not What

Should there be a few seconds of silence after the greeting, the hiring manager is testing you. They’re looking for you to take ownership of the conversation. So, what are you waiting for? Begin! “Thanks so much for meeting with me, Alan. I’d love to start out by sharing a little more about me. Does that work?"

However, here’s the problem: once the job candidate begins, they mostly just regurgitate their resume. In school, here’s what I did. I had an internship, here’s what I did. I graduated, here’s what I’m looking to do.

The truth about the term "what" is that it’s actually quite boring. Especially if you’re early in your career, the “what” simply won’t be that cool. But you are, and that’s why they invited you in for an interview, to get to know you better. What you really need to do is create a 90-120 second narrative that will engage your audience, connect with them, and nail the ever-important first impression.

Here's How:

1. Let them learn more about the real you. Where are you from? Any siblings? What did you realize about yourself at a young age? In order to connect with someone, you need to let them in a little. Starting from the beginning will get you off to a good start.

2. Think of three or four adjectives that describe you, and build a story around them. If you’re explaining your resume in more detail, focus on the one that will help sell yourself.

3. Transition into why you’re interviewing at that particular company. A lot of times the conclusion sounds weird, so simply transition out by explaining why you’re excited to be at the interview.

Don't get me wrong, creating a great first impressions can be difficult...especially for entry-level candidates. But, if you learn anything from this post, understand that making a good first impression is key in landing any job. Thankfully, with a little advice and a lot of practice, it can be easily done.

Brian Bar