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Job Interview Tips – The Importance of First and Last Impressions

There are two important parts to any interview. One is at the beginning when the halo effects form. The other is at the end because this is the impression of you that the interviewer takes away – the one that will be decisive when it comes to picking the short list or deciding who gets the job.

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First impressions

Due to the importance of halo effects, you have been working on your first (or early) impressions ever since you put in your application. You paid attention to the presentation of your CV, your letter of application and any forms you filled in. You now want to carry over these same good impressions into your interview.

Arriving on time

The classic bad start to any interview is arriving late (a bad start from which it is difficult to recover). Note the advice given yesterday about planning your journey.

Question: What if the unexpected happens – if, for example, your train is cancelled or you run into a tailback on the motorway?

Answer: Get on the phone straight away (always have a mobile phone on you when you go to an interview). Tell the interviewer:

– That you are running late
– The reason
– When you expect to arrive

This gives the interviewer the option to cancel the interview (giving you another appointment). It avoids:

– You and your late arrival being to blame for the whole programme of interviews running late in a string of interviews
– Your interview being cut short to prevent delays to other interviews

Appearance

If the interviewer has never seen you before, your appearance will clearly be a decisive factor in any first impressions you make. This is why you must always pay attention to what you wear for interviews and to items such as personal grooming.

What to wear

Once upon a time it was an unwritten rule that you put on your best clothes when you went for an interview. However, is this the case today, when people are far more casual about what they wear for work? Indeed by overdressing for an interview, could you come across as formal and starchy, i.e. not a good impression?

The clothes you choose for an interview should be:

– Consistent with the job you are applying for.
– Smart (even casual clothes can look smart)
– Clean
– Comfortable
– A reflection of you

This last bullet point is important because the clothes you choose, the colors and styles you put together and the accessories you wear all convey something of you that interviewers:

– Notice
– Latch onto

In this way, clothes become the catalyst around which the engagement factors start to form (the factors which draw employers to individual applicants).

It is interesting to note that, at the end of a string of interviews, interviewers often bring candidates back to mind by reference to something they wore, for example, ‘The girl with the marcasite earrings’, “The bloke with the nice blue tie’ etc. These points of recollection are important because otherwise candidates’ faces all tend to blur into one.

Last impressions

Just as important as first impressions are those you leave behind as you walk out of the door.

A faux pas in the middle of an interview has a chance:

– To correct itself
– Of being overlooked because of a good first impression (the halo effect)

However, a faux pas at the end of an interview will:

– Stay fresh in the memory
– Occur at the point in the interview furthest removed from the good first impression, i.e. where the halo effect is at its weakest

Talking yourself out of the job

Sometimes an interviewer will ask you at the end of an interview if there is anything you want to add – a question that can have you scratching your head for something to say.

If you succeeded in registering your important messages during the course of the interview, you will not need to add anything. Do not, whatever you do, launch into a long ramble about nothing and put your foot in it at the same time. Remember that it is very easy to put the kiss of death on an interview in its closing moments. Often the best bet is to keep quiet.

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