Making first impressions count

Making the first impression count 

I recently read a statistic which said that roughly 5% of decisions were made in the first minute of an interview, and nearly 30% of decisions were made in the first 5 minutes of the interview. Of course this is very much subjective to the individual conducting the individual, how experienced they are, what they’re looking for specifically in their ideal candidate, and also their mood on the day. Unfortunately, these are factors which are pretty much out of your personal control, but there are a number of things that will put you in the best possible position before even stepping into the interview room. 

  1. Know where you’re going 

Now, this may sound the most basic of things to prepare when you’re attending an interview, but it really is one of the most important in my personal experience. 

  • Don’t use Google to get the address! Use the address which is provided to you by your point of contact for the position, whether that be the recruiter, internal talent team or the hiring manager. I was once caught out by this when I was attending an important meeting with my largest client in a previous position I was working in. I hadn’t visited the offices before, I got to the Paddington and jumped in a black cab, scrambled around for an address on Google and it was wrong as they’d recently moved offices within the last 2 weeks. I ended up having to try and navigate my way from East to West London in 20 minutes, in the height of rush hour! Safe to say I didn’t make that meeting on time.
  • Google street view the offices – Get a feel for the offices or meeting location and what’s around them. Interviews can be stressful for many, being able to visualise your route and where you’ll be meeting will make it a far more relaxing experience. If you’re driving, ensuring you’re aware of the car parking setup is so important, we’ve all been stuck at an unmanned car park barrier frantically pressing the ring button with no answer before, frantically watching your meeting time draw closer and closer. 
  • Have all the necessary information to hand – Make sure you have the information of who you’re meeting to hand for when you arrive. Having the interviewers email address and full name will mean that reception will easily be able to understand who you’re meeting with, saving plenty of confusion and anxiety when they say ‘Are you sure they work in this office?’ 
  1. Allow plenty of time 

There’s no point following the tips in point 1 if you’re not going to allow plenty of time to get to your interview. You could be the perfect candidate for the role which you’re interviewing for, but if you’re late you are seriously reducing chances of getting the job before you even meet the interviewer. Something which I always do if I have an important meeting is schedule it to begin 30 minutes before it’s officially starting in my calendar. There’s nothing nicer than arriving early, and enjoying a coffee in a nearby coffee shop to go over my final prep!  

  1. Understand who you’re meeting 

It’s great to have a visual idea about who you’re meeting for your interview. It really helps me in my preparation to imagine what the interview is going to look like. Use LinkedIn to view their profile picture, perhaps try to understand some of their previous positions they’ve held at companies before their current role, it’s a great talking point and shows you’ve done your research. Don’t however go overboard and start digging into the archives of their family holiday to Barbados album in 2009 on Facebook! (You may come up as a suggested friend and give yourself away if you’ve been viewing their profile and have no mutual friends!).

4. Dress the part 

Dressing the part can be a large stress factor for many people, it’s important to dress in line with organisation and what they expect of their employees, however it’s equally important to feel comfortable, yet professional. Don’t just assume that as you’re going for a job interview it’s going to be a corporate dress code. Confirm the dress code with whoever’s setting up the interview, as many of us would do for a social situation. A lot of organisations are now a lot more relaxed when  it comes to the way they’re asking their employees to dress on a day to day basis, but this may not be the expectation when it comes to an interview situation. 

5. Relax! 

All of the above points should help you relax when you’re arriving for your interview, but remember to just breathe especially if you’re prone to getting particularly nervous when it comes to interviews. There are plenty of useful podcasts which are available to listen to which will help you relax whether it be the morning of or the night before your interview.