How to Make a Positive First Impression in Interviews

Published: Jan 14, 2020

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Interviews can be stressful and intimidating, but they don’t have to be. With the right amount and kind of preparation, you can significantly lessen your interview stress. And one way to do that is to make sure you’re ready to make a good first impression—which is essential when meeting anyone, including a prospective employer, for the first time. So to ensure you’re leaving a positive first impression in your interviews, follow these four essential tips.

1. Arrive looking professional.

Whether you want to admit it or not, appearance is extremely important when making a first impression. And it’s not only important to have the right attire—and dress in a suit or blouse for interviews—but it's also important that the rest of your appearance is impeccable. For example, a messy bedhead or patchy hairstyle can make you seem entitled or lackadaisical, so make sure your hair is combed or brushed and neat. Note that chances are your interviewer will not only be judging your answers but also if you'd be a good representative of the company when meeting with clients. Neat and clean will go a long way toward making a solid first impression.

2. Give a firm handshake.

The stereotype is true: surveys show that, to most people, a firm handshake is a key indicator of confidence and professionalism. So be sure to shake everyone’s hand who'll be interviewing you before you begin your meeting. This will make a positive first impression and set the tone for a good meeting, improving your interviewers’ sentiments toward you for the rest of the meeting. Keep in mind, however, that nerves can make your heart race and palms sweaty. And although sweaty palms can be frustrating, they can be managed. Before your interview, try to practice some anxiety-soothing rituals like deep-breathing or meditation to lessen your stress (and sweat).

3. Practice active listening.

It isn’t enough to simply answer the questions; you also need to be present to show your interviewers that you’re engaged in what they’re saying. Things as seemingly simple as a nod, smile, or eye contact will go a long way in showing your prospective employer that you’re a thoughtful and passionate candidate—right from the start. These small gestures can also create a stronger feeling of connection between the group in the interview room—and will help your interview stand out among others.

4. Check your nonverbal body language.

Similar to active listening, the way you position your body and gesture during your interview can speak volumes about your work ethic to employers. To appear open and honest, try to keep your arms and legs uncrossed. And to seem approachable, relax your brow. Ignoring these small cues can subconsciously signal to others that you’re hostile or unfriendly, which can immediately put interviewers on guard and affect your interview’s outcome.

A final note

It’s important that you honestly judge your strengths and weaknesses well before your interview so you can cater these tips to your own needs. This will help you make the most of your first encounters with potential employers to give you the best chances of landing the job.

Capri is an advocate for personal health and wellness with a mission to empower others to take control of their health in order to excel in all areas of life.