Candidate Tips & Advice

The First 7 Seconds

  • february 23,2015
  • Dave Rigby
  • Improving Your Job Chances

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Everybody knows how important first impressions are, especially in interviews. It’s widely believed that the “first impression” is actually formed within just a seven second window when you first meet someone.

In an interview situation, this means that you need to act very quickly to make a fantastic first impression on your interviewers.

If you've had an interview confirmed, here are some useful tips to bear in mind as you walk through the door:

  1. Smile. Facial expression is key when it comes to making a good impression. Make sure you don’t have a false, cheesy grin slapped across your face – interviewers will know it’s fake and masking nerves or arrogance. You want to come across as warm and outgoing and they need to spend all seven seconds thinking you are confident and professional, which is why a relaxed smile is best. 
  1. Shake their hands. The handshake is the universally accepted signal of professionalism, politeness and confidence. A good handshake is a fine art; a balance between a tight squeeze and a limp stroke. It needs to say “I mean business”. Additionally, make sure you shake all their hands if there are multiple interviewers. You don’t want to get in one of their bad books because you only acknowledged the person in the middle, or the “main” interviewer.
  1. Introduce yourself. The chances are someone probably called you from a waiting room with a file of notes about you, so they know who you are. Even so, when you shake their hands, just say, for example, “Hi I’m Bob”; they will then introduce themselves and you can reply “lovely to meet you” or something similar. It breaks the tension and gives the first few seconds a conversation topic. 
  1. Speak clearly. There is little point introducing yourself and saying wonderful things if they can’t understand what you are saying. Speak in a competent and confident way making sure what you say is relevant and appropriate; you want to paint yourself in a good light and give them as much, good information as possible. 
  1. Maintain eye contact. People perceive you as shifty, or dishonest when you don’t make eye contact. To make a good first impression make sure you lock eyes with the interviewer(s) as soon as you enter the room and maintain it whilst you shake hands and introduce yourself. Don’t stare, but hold the interviewer’s gaze for at least three seconds at a time throughout the rest of the interview too.
  1. Look smart. Appearance is as important as body language and your answers in an interview, so you need your appearance to be fitting for the occasion. Even if the company accepts casual dress, it is good practice to dress smartly for the interview; you’d much rather be overdressed than seen as scruffy. 
  1. Sit down only when invited to do so. After you have shaken all of their hands and formally introduced yourself the natural next step is to sit down. However, it is polite to wait until the interviewer invites you to. They will probably just say “please sit down” or “take a seat,” but if you just walk straight in and plonk yourself in front of them it will appear rude and hasty.

It’s a lot to remember and put in to practice but it will be over before you know it – in seven seconds to be exact. So smile, shake hands, speak clearly and look smart to create the best first impression ever. The rest of the interview is up to you.

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