The first few seconds you meet someone, they have already made an opinion about you.
In Gladwell's 2007 online version of Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, it does a great job going into this subject further, but people the concept is simple. Listen to your intuition.
It becomes second nature when we become parents for most of us.
Example : You can be dead sleep in the middle of the night and hear the pitter patter of little feet on the floor and be wake in an instant trying to find out who is up and why. Your intuition is speaking to you saying get up potential danger!
So how do you make a good first impression considering you have 15 seconds or less?
You must exhibit the entire package and show the confidence to back it up. It is critical. Do or Die time.
- Replicate the firmness and handshake type that you receive. In order to avoid looking clumsy in doing so, always assume you are going to take the lead with a strong respectful and moderate handshake and change if the recipient changes.
- Wear something you feel like a million dollars in. New, wrinkle free, clean, expensive … all of these! If you feel like a million dollars, it will be depicted in your walk, stature, speech, attitude, everything.
- Clean cut and appropriate for the environment. If you ever have questions, it is OK to ask if it is business casual or not.
- Worse Case Scenario – Be overdressed instead of under-dressed.
- Speak proper English. Do not use slang or abbreviations that employer's may not know.
- Say your name clearly. First and Last while shaking hands.
- Always have 5 extra meetings in a folder ready in case someone needs one and ask if they need one at this time. "I bought a few extra resumes if you need one"
Now that you have given the warm and fuzzy feeling, they may ask for you to introduce yourself. This is the perfect opportunity to use an elevator speech. Create a brief preformed answer to this question that is relevant to the job you are interviewing for.
Do research the night before and look over the company's website. Google them. See what comes up.
Once impressed with this, the employer will move on to ask those questions we all hate. What are your strengths and weaknesses? They are getting tricky these days and reworded this question into a more positive spin, but remember it is still the same question.
How I answer this. I recently took a Strengths Finder 2.0 test and it gives me my top 5 strengths which makes answer the strengths part a breeze. But what about weaknesses?
NEVER EVER use a weakness that will hinder you from getting the job. Use something irrelevant to the position at hand. "I feel that one area of improvement I could seek is education, therefore, I recently applied for ______ college and will be starting classes in the Fall / Spring"
Notice what we did here. Weave a weakness, education AND weave a way that we are ALREADY pursuing a way to fix it.
Another good way to answer this is to take your top 5 strengths and spin them so they could be slightly a fatigue.
Example : I find that I am more of an independent worker and enjoy the freedom more so than working on a team, therefore, I have signed up for some really fun summer team events to work on my team building skills. Now if you are applying for a job where working for a team is part of the description, this is not a good weakness. If you are applying for more of an IT Help Desk where it is mostly independent work and maybe a little team work, this would be good.
Have you had a situation where you … tell me about that. I see on your resume that you … can you explain a little more of that for me?
These questions are based to see how you react. Quick thinking is good, but take a minute to think about it before you answer. Say to them, "That's a good question, let me think." Think for a few seconds on how to respond, gain your composition, and then respond in a confident manner.
If you sound uneasy or unsure about your answer, they will know. You will hear it in your voice cracking, sweating, shaking, talking with your hands, not making eye contact, saying Um Uh … etc.
Practice answers to the common questions. Say them in the mirror so you know what you look like. Do not be afraid to maintain eye contact during conversation. It shows truth and honesty in what you say. Looking away gives the feeling of deceit and lies.
Do not come off cocky and say II I … make sure to give credit where credit is due. Say WE as a team so that your potential employer knows you can work in a team and it was successful. It shows that you are not full of yourself and that you can be a productive member to his team.
** TIP **
I have a section on my resume that includes Key Skills. This way when they ask me to show a time when I was a good leader, Team Player, or whatever it is I can respond with, "I have a great story about that. I used this skill often. "One time in particular is when _________________…"
Now, when it is time to wrap things up and they ask "Do you have any questions?" you can say yes or no … so which is the right answer?
If you want the job, show interest and ask questions. Not about benefits and vacation … that shows what you are really interested in.
- How soon are you looking to make a decision?
- Is there anything in particular you are looking for in an individual to fill this position?
- Can I ask why this position became available?
- Would there be any advice you would give the incoming candidate that receives the job?
Now you may or may not really care what these answers are, but dog-gone-it you better act like you do for the time being!
Wrap it up. Only ask 2 questions. Shake hands and thank them for seeing you and the opportunity while you see your way out.
And that my friends, will lead to an excellent interview every time!