There is a lot to hold in your head when you are interviewing for a job, from saying the right answers to negotiating your salary. On top of all that you want to give off an air of confidence and make a strong first impression.
So instead of trying to do everything at once, focus on the basics. Here are three key principles to keep in mind.
Connect with your network ahead of time
Your first impression actually starts before you enter the door. It begins with your reputation and what others think of you long before you open your mouth. To help build your brand, connect with your network and ask them about the role and your job.
At this point, you may want to ask your network to put in a good word for you. But rather, focus on learning about the role and how it fits with your strengths – don’t make it all about you. The impression you give off simply by caring and wanting to learn more about the role makes an impact. Express your gratitude for them helping you understand the opening and how you might fit. As a benefit, your extra interest and eagerness will likely find its way back to the interviewers.
Breathe and pay attention to your body language
If you try to control every last mannerism from handshakes to eye contact, you’re likely to come across as either robotic or nervous. Instead, breathe and relax. Let your body language come across as at ease and confident and the rest will flow.
Say thank you
Much as first impression starts before they meet you, it also concludes after you leave to close the loop. In a thank you note, say what made you feel connected to the position and how the interviewers helped you understand the role. This isn’t a replacement for a first impression, but instead can reinforce what others thought of you. You don’t need to say too much to remind people about you and help cement your brand.
When you are finished with an interview process, resist the urge to second guess yourself. Remember it’s not just one thing that makes or breaks a first impression – it’s multiple elements over time. Focus on building your reputation, and first impressions will start to become second nature.