Making a Good First Impression, Selling Yourself and Closing the Deal

An interview is very much like a first date. Full of so much potential. You’ve done the research and you’ve assigned yourself to the possibility that this could be ‘The One.’ It is exactly what you’ve been looking for. In modern day dating maybe even more apt to compare the two. You know the company image, you’ve seen the job description and you swiped right.  Yes, yes, yes! And then: IT’S A MATCH! Next, a time to meet.

As you sit nervously in a room waiting for your prospective new employer to walk in (let’s refer to him as Jo for ease of reference), you’re incredibly nervous. The next 30 to 40 minutes could possibly shape the rest of your life (and there are no free flow Gin and Tonic’s to help with Dutch courage!) Even though you know that this is a two way process, Jo has everything going for him. He knows exactly what he’s looking for, he’s well established, worth heaps of cash, has ‘houses’ in several different states and one in London and he’s the one everyone wants to know, be seen with, be with. You know the type I mean.

He walks in and your mind goes blank. Your palms are sweaty and you instantly forget how to stand up. You feel completely out of your league and you stare awkwardly at the floor hoping that somehow it will miraculously swallow you whole. Jo sits opposite you and you’re so shy you cant make eye contact until almost eight minutes into the meeting. Your hands haven’t left your side. You mutter something, a bit more time passes and before you know it he’s getting up to leave. What? You haven’t even got to the fun stuff yet. How can he leave?

On the way home you wonder- what went wrong? You go back and forth trying to remember word for word what you’d said in the interview and then suddenly it hits you… maybe you didn’t really give off a great first impression. Could it really be that? Surely no. You are great. You were nervous. He must know that. Everyone acts like that in an interview. Full of doubt you move onto the next possible potential and so the cycle of dating, um sorry, interviewing continues.

First impressions really do matter! You’ll never get a second chance to create a good first impression.  Research suggests it takes just one-tenth of a second for us to judge someone and make a first impression. Your potential new employer may give you slightly longer but generally within two minutes will know whether or not to hire you.

Credentials matter too, don’t get me wrong but unless you have the social skills and the savvy to know how to conduct a good interview and sell yourself you might as well forget your doctorate at the door.

Here are some tips to help you make that first impression count, how to sell yourself and how to close the deal:

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT: BE ‘LIKEABLE’

  • When you meet anyone for the first time – new employer, employee, date; you probably instantly ask yourself: Do I like them? Do I trust them? Your new employer the instant you meet asks the same of you. Do I like you? Can we trust you? Being ‘likeable’ can mean many things but in an interview setting – be friendly, smart, real and relevant.
  • Dress smart, smile, keep eye contact, be mindful of your body language and give a firm handshake. Be smart. Don’t sit down instantly, don’t moan about the time it took to get into the office, don’t complain about the weather! Be real, honest, genuine. Be relevant. We love your kids too but an interview is not the time for a trip down memory lane or an inside joke about gammy’s 90th. Relax but don’t relax. Don’t let your guard slip and be mindful of your body language.

 

BE YOURSELF AND SELL YOURSELF

  • Once you’ve gone past the niceties focus on being yourself and selling yourself but keep it brief. Employers will take note of how prepared you are, how you communicate and how well you listen.
  • The truth will catch up to you. Don’t waffle. Be precise and be relevant.
  • Speak clearly, slowly and never use a voluminous vocabulary you can’t even spell.
  • Ask questions, appear interested and express your enthusiasm.

 

A good interview should last at least 45 minutes. If you feel that after 20 minutes it’s coming to a close use any information you prepared to start another conversation thread. ‘I noticed you went to so and so university… did you enjoy it?’ ‘I noticed from your LinkedIn experience you play Lacrosse, I do too. Do you still get the opportunity to play?’

 

CLOSING THE DEAL

  • Leaving a lasting impression is as important as making a good first impression. Know when to wrap it up.
  • First interviews aren’t the time and place to discuss holidays, benefits, compensation, working hours, how many computer screens you might get, lunch options around the office. Draw a line, thank the interviewer(s) for their time, express your interest in the role, shake hands, keep eye contact and leave. No hugs and kisses, high fives or see ya laters.
  • And lastly, send a well written and timely thank you email. While it won’t guarantee you the position it contributes to your overall process signaling that you are interested and enthusiastic about the role – and that could set you apart from all the other fish in the sea. (This part doesn’t really apply to dating – that would be weird!)

 

Much like dating interviewing is a process that you shouldn’t rush through. Be choosy, deliberate and don’t just take the first hot job that comes along. Remember desperation is not pretty. You want this relationship to work and to last so take your time, keep your ego in check, make it personal and remember you have a lot to offer. If the match is a really good fit it could possibly be for the rest of your life.

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