7 Tips for Nailing The First Job Interview

Nov 19, 2015

Job Interview Tips on the Tip of Your Tongue

You’ve thoroughly researched the company, practiced your answers to potential interview questions, pressed and donned your best power suit, and performed countless positive mantras. You’re ready for that first big job interview. Or are you?

Knowing how to nail the first face-to-face job interview is more than being technologically savvy or dressing for success. Your first impression could disqualify you within the first few seconds — before you even open your mouth. Sure, you’ve got to prepare and do your research, but consider using these seven interview tips to take a big leap past the competition.

1. “It’s about time!”

All the stars may align to set you up for the perfect job at just the right time in your career. While you may feel good about your preparation, be sure your practical timing aligns with the stars as well. Be on time. If you show up breathless for the first job interview, you might as well come out and tell the employer that there’s a good chance you will be late for work every day.

Even if you drove the route the night before the big job interview so you could time your arrival just right, unforeseen obstacles like a dreaded traffic jam can really jam you up. Being just a minute or two late for the interview sets you back immediately with employers. Give yourself extra time; plan to arrive about 10 to 15 minutes early. It’s better to sit in your car for a few minutes than to pull into the parking lot with only seconds to spare.

2. “3, 2, 1…You’re on!”

Many good candidates lose great opportunities by treating the receptionist and other employees like the “help.” For starters, you likely don’t know if the receptionist is the regular front desk employee or is the normal lunchtime fill-in. Either way, how you treat that first contact plays a significant role in your first impression.

How to nail an interview? Smile and make eye contact with everyone you encounter on your way to the employer’s office. It’s a common practice for employers to consult with the receptionist and others you’ve encountered to get their take on you. You will likely leave more that one first impression, so treat everyone you meet as if they hold the key to your future.

3. “That’s just your opinion.”

The first job interview is designed for the employer to get to know you and find out whether you will fit comfortably within the company’s culture. Nailing an interview is easy once you’ve already passed the first test with your resume credentials. This is the time to highlight your personality — that is, the positive side of your personality.

Keep negative opinions to yourself. If an employer believes you are too opinionated, it can be difficult to picture you working well within a team. Sarcastic remarks come off as negative traits and not as witty banter. While you want to create a personal bond with the interviewer, this is not the time to let your cynical wit outweigh your professional manners.

4. “You’re sending mixed signals.”

You send just as many, if not more, signals about yourself through your body language in a job interview than you ever could say out loud. For example, slouching says you’re lazy while leaning forward can come on as aggressive. Lack of eye contact may signify that you’re lying just as much as touching your face does.

Crossing your arms is defensive while excessive nodding undermines your credibility. Fidgeting is distracting to the interviewer and locking eyes is both aggressive and kind of creepy. And you will come off as arrogant if you get too comfortable during the job interview and throw your arm over the chair or stretch out your legs.

5. “We have so much in common.”

People like to hire people that are like them, especially when the interviewer is someone with whom you will work closely on the job. To build rapport on the job interview, look for ways to bond, to find similar interests. Start by asking how the interviewer is doing this fine spring day (or rainy afternoon). Showing concern for another is a great way to begin the bonding process.

Look for clues around the office. For example, if the employer has a picture of a golf course hanging on the wall, ask about the sport and his involvement. Talk about your own experience on the commonalities. If you spot a picture of a dog, talk about your dog, or the dog you had as a kid.

6. “Can you be a little more specific?”

It helps to spend time researching the specific position for which you’re applying, or better yet, ask for a detailed job description early on, well before your first round of interviews. Knowing about the company and its history can only lend so much to refer to from time to time during the job interview. But you’ll make a real impression by relating your experience to the specific job duties and responsibilities that you learned about the position.

Navigate the conversation a little so that you can provide specific examples of how you relied on certain skills to solve a problem that could crop up in your new position. Refer to past challenges that relate specifically to the job for which you’re applying and what you learned that will be especially useful in the new position.

7. “Um…I have a question.”

Job Interview Tips 101 states that assuming information can get you in as much trouble as expressing too many opinions. Chances are, you won’t be offered the position during the first job interview, but it can’t hurt to ask for the job. On the other hand, pointed questions can give you an idea of where you stand. And employers still judge you based on the quality of your questions at the end of the interview. According to Business Insider, you should have at least four questions prepared.

Ask where you stand compared to other candidates. Ask what steps follow this initial job interview. Ask about the hiring process and whom you will meet next. Ask questions that illustrate your interest in the job and in the company. Use the time wisely and you may just get put on the fast track.

“Fist bump!!!”

After the questions, prepare a little summary for the employer to remember you by. Put on a big smile and offer a firm handshake as you express your gratitude for the opportunity to become a part of such a fine organization. Consider throwing in one last question about when you can expect to hear about the job or what is the best way to contact the employer to follow up. And remember that your interview is still going on as you walk away. Maintain a cool, confident posture, smile and nod to others you pass and hold back on any celebratory fist bumps until you’re well away from the building.

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About the Author

Charlie Kimmel

As President and CEO, Charlie has dedicated his 25+ year career to executive search at Kimmel & Associates. Charlie began his career at Kimmel & Associates in 1990 as a Recruiter. In 1993, he graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where he received a BA in History.

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