You will never get a second chance to make a first impression. The reality is, people judge, despite our attempt to remain unbiased, objective and professional. Countless studies, over countless years, have revealed that most people form perceptions about others within the first 10 seconds of meeting them. Potential employers are no exception. Image and presentation are everything. If you make the wrong first impression, your impressive resume, proven track record and multiple awards may be rendered insignificant, because by the time those things come up in the interview, potential employers may have already made their mind up about you.
Eye Contact, Handshake and Body Language
Appearance is more than your clothes, hairstyle and make-up. Remember these three elements: eye contact, handshake and body language. When you are called in to meet your (hopefully) new employer, smile, look him or her in the eye and greet them with a firm and assertive handshake. Maintain eye contact throughout and – no matter how impressive the office space is – remain focused on the interviewer. Maintain a posture that would make your mother proud, along with inviting body language. Not that it has to be said, but avoid crossed arms at all costs.
Be Perfectly Polished
If you appear disheveled, he or she will automatically assume you are disorganized, a scatterbrain or lazy. Yes, we do have more faith in you than to suggest you would arrive at a job interview looking like you had been to a rave the night before; however, we stress the importance to take the time to plan your outfit the night before to make sure it is impeccable. Shoes should be clean and polished, clothing should be pressed, hair should be neat and fingernails should be trimmed and clean. The overall look is tidy and presentable without going over the top. Stay easy on the perfume and jewellery.
Tattoos and Body Piercings
We are all for expressing one’s individuality and creativity through things like piercings and tattoos (aside from the meathead who doesn’t quite understand the significance of his tattoo or know how to describe its meaning). Potential employers in most professions don’t like them as much. Although times have changed, especially in artistic professions, and employers are generally more liberal, some may still see you as the rebellious type who likes to play by your own rules if your tattoos and piercings are clearly visible. It is always wise to play it safe – body piercings and tattoos should be removed or covered, not only because your employer may not share the same love you do for them, but they (along the same token as too much jewelry) are a major distraction and hindrance when competing for a job.
When going to a job interview, we suggest dressing in some of your nicest attire, but that doesn’t mean going overboard with the designer duds. If you arrive into an interview draped in expensive jewelry, a Rolex watch, Chanel purses, Louis Vuitton briefcases or wallets (where you will promptly place the potential employer’s business card at the end of the interview) and a Hermes belt, no matter if all of the above were the result of your income tax return or your side bartending job that supports your love for the finer things, employers may assume otherwise. Not only is it distracting, he or she may assume you are a spoiled brat and don’t really need the job; therefore may not be willing to work as hard as other applicants.
Avoid Dressing/Acting too Young
If you appear too young, you won’t be taken seriously for anything more than an intern role. Remove words and phrases like “awesome,” “cool,” “like” and “no worries” from your vocabulary and don’t talk or text on your cell phone or listen to your iPod while in the waiting area. Fake it until you make it; dress and act the role you want to assume within the company. Use proper and appropriate workplace terminology. Practice your conversation before hand with a parent, mentor or older, experienced young professional.