Looking for work? It takes as little as seven seconds to make a first impression, which means those initial moments when you meet an employer are critical to whether they’re ultimately likely to offer you a job or not.
So how do you overcome interview nerves to make a great first impression when you’re looking for work?
Check your attitude
According to Forbes first impressions are more heavily influenced by nonverbal than verbal cues. They note “studies have found that nonverbal cues have over four times the impact on the impression you make than anything you say”, which makes your attitude a key component of a positive first impression.
Before you set foot in the interview room or even the building, take the time to consider the attitude you wish to convey and then embody it.
The way you walk, stand, nervously fidget, or calmly command your body has a massive impact on how people read you. There’s also a school of thought that says by imitating powerful and confident body language you not only seem poised but feel more confident too.
In a study on body language, Harvard Social Scientist Amy Cuddy found practicing and using powerful poses before or during stressful situations allowed people to appear and feel in control, and argues people should “fake it until they become it”.
She noted this is particularly important in job interviews.
“The body is so linked to the mind,” Cuddy tells Business Insider. “I would say the body is constantly leading a conversation with the mind.”
That’s why mimicking the body language of powerful people can make you feel more confident, too.
A sincere smile allows people to get to know you, reveals a little about your personality and can give you an edge over other job applicants, according to recruiter.com.
They note: “At a job interview, a genuine smile can put you ahead of the pack and give you an edge on the competition, even if the competition has better credentials or more experience. You see, a smile is actually worth more than either of those things.
“When an employer is interviewing candidates, they want someone who will be able to do the job for sure — but what they also want is someone who will work well with the rest of the team they already have in place.”
But they also explain it’s important not to overdo it. A great smile is a genuine one, delivered at the right time.
The eyes are the window to your interest level and confidence, making eye contact the next essential ingredient on the successful job interview list.
Forbes suggests a great way to practice improving your eye contact is to note the eye colour of every person you meet, meanwhile Everyday Interview Tips explains eye contact says a lot about who you are.
Making eye contact throughout the interview shows the employer that you have confidence, focus, and are personable.
On the flips side, failing to make eye contact can have a host of negative connotations, subtly indicating you may be avoiding the truth, are bored or shy.
While a job interview is about ascertaining your skills and suitability for a role, it is also about establishing your interest in a job and company, which makes it important to convey this interest throughout an interview.
Key tips include occasionally raising your eyebrows to indicate recognition and acknowledgment of what the interviewer is saying, and leaning in to show you are interested and engaged.
The final word
Interviews can be nerve-wracking even for a seasoned career pro, so acknowledge that you have the right to be nervous, and put in some hard yards long before you reach the interview door.
This includes having a practice interview run with a family member or friend, anticipating the type of questions that you will be asked. Imagine how you will enter the room, greet the interviewer, and also plan out what you will wear.
You can also see more of our interview tips here.
The Father James Grant Foundation offers four-week workplace training and mentoring programs designed to deliver life and workplace skills, including essential interview skills for making a great first impression.
You can learn more about us and our Mission Engage program here or contact us for further advice.