Time and again I have seen hopeful and promising candidates fail to provide a solid, positive first impression in the interview. Especially in the tight job market, the basics are more important than ever and more is expected. Next time you are headed to the hot seat, know that being early, looking sharp, giving that confident handshake, and following up with that thank you card (yes, this still matters!) are essential. Also avoiding these three mistakes can help you keep the employer's attention, as they are often even more bored and tired than you by the recruiting and hiring process.
1) Going into the interview without a plan.
Research supports that for any performance, visualizing the positive outcome you want to achieve before the real live event does make a positive difference. It can also do a number on settling the nerves before "go time." Get really clear about what your goal is in the upcoming interview. Picture what you'll wear, what they are likely to ask, what you will say, what does the room look like--the more detailed the better for your body and mind to benefit the most from it. How will it feel to get that positive feedback and outcome you are seeking? How would you celebrate?
Believing that you will succeed in the hot seat is a must to turn a good impression into a great one.
2) Forgetting to bring your personality with you.
So many times because of the fear of making a mistake, the best parts of a person often seem to get left at the door in an interview. Hiring managers and recruiters are normal people, too. The faster you warm up to them the better, rather than keeping an icy professional guard. Try to find out things in common with those interviewing you without crossing the line. Often times interviewers are seeing so many candidates that it can be easy to blend in too much. Don't start up that comedy stand-up routine you mimic that your friends adore or share cute stories about family members just yet, but do what you can to showcase those unique personal qualities that make you different.
3) Not practicing at all or with the right person before the real deal.
How do you be sure you have a good plan to walk in with and that you will bring the parts of your personality that are your strengths to the hot seat with you? Practice. Not just in your head or with a friend who took a class in job searching, although that is a good start. Professionals do not show up to perform at a concert or a ball game without formal coaching where they receive objective and constructive feedback. Seeking out professional support with an experienced Interview Coach can help increase your chances of a better performance in the hot seat. It is the optimal way to help ensure you are doing everything you can to shine at your next interview.
Remember at the interview to let yourself shine. This can feel awkward at first since we are often not used to sharing our value, especially to a room of strangers. Practice ways to make sure they will see your strengths, hear your worth, and feel your positive energy.
Your turn--What else works for you to show up at the interview really ready to impress? Share your experience in a comment below!
Most of all, believe in you. I do.