|» How to Conquer the
When you walk into an interview, remember this: It
only takes 30 seconds to make a lasting impression.
has shown that the first impression you make
on an interviewer really sticks. In one study, untrained
subjects were shown 20- to 32-second videotaped segments
of job applicants greeting their interviewers. When the
subjects rated the applicants on attributes like self-assurance
and likeability, their assessments were very similar
to the interviewers' -- who had spent more than 20 minutes
with each applicant.
Fortunately, there are some actions
you can take to help master the first impression:
Few things give a worse impression than showing up late
for an important meeting. Allow yourself plenty of
time to get to the interview in case you have trouble
finding the office.
But earlier isn't necessarily better.
If you arrive more than 15 minutes early and beeline
for the reception
area, your interviewer might feel rushed and you might
appear desperate, according to Emily Post's book "The
Etiquette Advantage in Business." If you arrive
early, go to the restroom to freshen up or have an espresso
and muffin at a nearby coffee shop. Ideally, you should
check in five to 10 minutes early, and always be courteous
and professional to everyone you meet -- you never know
how much influence the receptionist may have on the hiring
Like it or not, people make judgments on appearances,
so it's important to arrive at the interview looking
like a seasoned professional. But if you dress too
formally, you'll look stuffy, and if you dress too
casually, the interviewer may think you're not serious
about the job.
Never wear anything sloppy, tight or
revealing to an interview. High-quality, tailored business
always appropriate for both men and women. And don't
forget the details: Make sure your shoes and any other
accessories are clean and polished. Clothes may make
the (wo)man, but hair and hygiene are crucial. You never
want an interviewer to smell you before they see you,
so always bathe the morning of the interview, use a good-quality
bath soap and deodorant, and avoid wearing perfume or
Be sure your hair is clean and well-groomed --
nothing spiky or wild -- and keep your makeup minimal. Cover
any tattoos, and limit visible piercings to one in each
According to Emily Post's book, your grip speaks volumes.
Offer a limp hand and your partner will think you're
hesitant or meek. Give a bone-crunching squeeze and you
can appear overly enthusiastic or domineering -- and
it hurts! But when you shake with a medium-firm grip,
you convey confidence and authority.
Extend your hand
and grip when the webs of your palms touch. Then, pump your
hand a couple of times.
Don't underestimate the importance of your posture and
subtle movements. A study by Albert Mehrabian of UCLA
found that 55 percent of communication is received
from body language. To ensure your body language signals
your confidence, sit up straight with your shoulders
back. Avoid crossing your legs and don't adopt a casual
pose -- even if your interviewer does.
Even if you're
nervous, try not to fidget. Don't play with your jewelry,
twirl your hair or cross your arms,
and try to maintain eye contact with the interviewer.
If staring straight into the interviewer's eyes makes
you uncomfortable, look at the bridge of his or her nose
instead -- it looks like you're still making eye contact,
but might be less distracting.