If you thought that leaving an impressions is just about answering the interview questions perfectly, asking the correct questions, and having an outstanding CV, you’re off the mark. It’s not just about what happens within the four walls in the presence of the interview panel, nope. It’s also about what happens while you’re in the waiting room, when you introduce yourself to the receptionist, and it all starts the moment you walk through the first office door.
This is what you’re already being judged on:
1. Your wrinkled clothes and untucked shirt
It’s called an iron – use it.
No it isn’t fair to be judged on your appearance but you will be. First impressions last. An untidy appearance communicates that your work is untidy, you do not care about presentation, and that you don’t take anything seriously. It shouldn’t but it does.
No broken shoes, no messy hair, make sure your beard is tidy, and even that dark dirt line under your fingernails shouldn’t be there. Rather remove chipped nail polish, and yes the interviewer is going to see that small little hole as well as that small little stain on your pants, dress or shirt. First impressions last.
2. Your smell
The associations we make through smell are one of our most powerful and long lasting. A pleasant smell has the power to make your companion happy, while an unpleasant smell… Well, if you’ve ever had to tilt your head slightly in a conversation with a friend, colleague, stranger… You know what perceptions they made? ‘Nough said.
You’d be at amazed how many interviewees pitch up with creative strange odours emanating from their pores. From alcohol to smoke to body odour and bad breath. Keep your pumps!
Get a fresh wash. Deodorant over the stink never works, if you are a smoker invest in hand sanitizer, and no amount of gum will mask the whiff of alcohol that proves you’re a hungover party animal, or daytime drinker.
What you smell like on that day is proof of what you’re always going to smell like.
3. Chewing bubble-gum
First of all, many people find chewers annoying. You don’t know who your interviewer will be, so rather don’t risk it.
Secondly, talking with gum in your mouth is as bad as talking with food in your mouth. You’ll have the interviewers thinking you have no manners.
Finally, chewing gum makes you look disinterested, disrespectful, conceited, and lazy.
4. Sitting on your phone in the waiting area
Millennials have a tough time proving that they aren’t phone obsessed . So no matter what you’re doing on your phone (even if you are catching up on the latest in your industry) it’ll just look like you’re texting, on some frivolous social network or choosing the best filter for your latest selfie. Rather take a book along, or start reading one of the magazines available in the waiting area.
Worst case scenario: your interviewer is the parent of a teenager. Can you imagine how annoyed they’ll be right off the bat if they see you’re phone obsessed too? Immediately they are already seeing that you’re going to waste precious company time.
5. Your demeanor
No matter how impressive your CV is, all those achievements and Cum Laudes mean nothing if you don’t carry yourself well.
Yes, this means you need to perfect your body language but also your facial expression, your mood, and your interaction with all staff members. Whether you’re dying of hunger, exasperated from rushing, nervous for what lies ahead, or annoyed from the fight you had with your sister this morning, you have to push all that moodiness aside.
For the next hour of your life everything is sunshine, rainbows and roses. Be polite to the receptionist, smile at everyone that sees you in the waiting area, and concentrate on releasing that scowl. At the same time, don’t be all pageantry either (unless your interview is for Miss South Africa, of course!), trying too hard will make you seem faux-professional.
Don’t speak down to any person you encounter in the office and don’t complain about your day. You never know who the hiring manager might ask for an opinion about or their first impression of you.
Oh, and carry yourself with confidence, not entitlement.