10 ways to impress a prospective employer in less than five minutes

By Robert Half 3 April 2018

In your interview, you haven’t got long to impress a prospective employer.

In fact, an interviewer will normally decide within the first few minutes, if not seconds, whether to employ you.

So how can you ensure you make a good first impression?

Here are ten effective tips that will help you stand out in your job interview, for all the right reasons.

How to impress a prospective employer during an interview

1. Carry out thorough research

First things first, it’s important that you clearly understand the role and the company you have applied for, so you don’t get flustered with any questions. Read and re-read the job description, look at their company website, search for news about them and check their social media accounts.

It can also be a good idea to find out more about your interviewer (e.g. via Twitter or LinkedIn), so you can see if there is anything you have in common, which you can use to help build a rapport with them during the first few minutes of the interview.

2. Carefully plan your answers

Making your answers up on the spot won’t win you any favours when it comes to first impressions.

Spend some time before your interview researching potential questions and carefully crafting your answers. This way, you can answer concisely from the start, whilst including all the relevant information to impress the interviewer and demonstrate that you’re the ideal person for the job.

3. Arrive early, but not too early

Turning up late to your interview isn’t going to provide a good first impression to a prospective employer. Make sure you plan out your route to the interview in advance and leave extra time for any potential delays, such as cancelled trains or bad traffic.

Arriving ten minutes early is sufficient but arriving too early can put undue pressure on your interviewer.

4. Always engage a professional manner

Whilst your interview may not have officially started, make sure you are professional and polite to everyone you meet as soon as you set foot in the building.

If you’re rude to the receptionist for instance, this will certainly be passed on and could be fed back to your interviewer.

5. Dress for the job you want

What you are wearing is probably one of the first things a prospective employer will notice. It’s therefore important to pick an outfit that gives a positive first impression and is appropriate for the type of job you’re applying for. If you’re unsure, do some research on the company’s dress code before your interview.

Make sure your shoes are clean and polished. Don’t wear bulky or flashy jewellery, as this could be distracting to the interviewer. Avoid wearing strong perfumes/aftershaves too, as they could be overwhelming, especially if your interview is in a small room.

6. Give a good handshake

Your handshake says a lot about you, so it’s important that you get it right. No one wants to receive a flimsy, sweaty handshake. Nor do you want to give a handshake that is too hard.

Practice on friends and family first if you’re unsure. If possible, visit the restroom before your interview, to make sure your hands are clean and dry.

7. Make eye contact

No one wants to be continuously stared at, but maintaining eye contact from the start of the interview is important. It shows that you’re trying to connect with the interviewer and you’re confident. Avoid staring past the interviewer though, or down at the table, as this can show that you’re shy.

8. Speak clearly and confidently

If a prospective employer can’t understand you, this won’t help you secure the job. Don’t mumble through the introductions - make sure you keep your voice steady and speak up.

9. Be conscious of your body language

Consider what your body language is saying about you from the first point of contact. Crossing your arms as soon as you sit down can make you seem closed off. If you slouch, you may look lazy or unprofessional. And if you fidget, it will show that you have low confidence.

10. Give a simple smile

Whilst you might feel nervous, a simple smile from the beginning can help you to be more relaxed. It will make you seem more approachable and easier to talk to. It can also give the impression to your interviewer that you’re enthusiastic about the opportunity.

Bonus Tip: Beyond the 5 minutes

It can be difficult to impress a prospective employer, especially when you only have a short amount of time to really “wow” them. It’s also likely that you’ll be competing against several other candidates, with very similar skills and experiences to you.

Therefore, in addition to following the above tips, it’s important you focus on how you can stand out from the crowd too. Let your unique personality shine through. Highlight anything notable that you have done, such as working on a project that produced outstanding results, or even doing charity work in your personal time. You could also follow up after the interview with a simple handwritten note, to thank the interviewer, whilst emphasising your appetite for the job.

Before you head to your next job interview, make sure you remind yourself of these ten essential tips. They will help you to present yourself in the best possible light and create that all-important positive first impression.

Impressing the interviewer from the moment you walk in the door will not only set you up for a positive interview, it will also help you to stand out from other candidates. This all puts you in a brilliant position when it comes to the prospective employer making their final hiring decision.

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