The Interview


10 seconds to make a great first impression

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and you have just 10 seconds. Part of preparing for an interview is deciding how you will make the best possible first impression. Deciding what to wear, how you to say hello, how to greet the first person you see are all part of getting ready to shine.

What to wear at the interview

Before you decide what to wear, it’s worth finding out what the dress code or dress standards are for the business. If the company is conservative and formal, you might need to invest in a suit and formal shoes. A very polished and professional look might be just the thing to make a good first impression. 

If the organisation is informal, you might be better dressing informally or smart casual. What does smart casual mean? If you search for the term, it's usually described as, ‘informal/formal wear’. For men, that means wearing a jacket, perhaps chino type trousers and full shoes. For women, again a jacket over a dress or skirt or trousers and a blouse, full shoes rather than sandals fit the criteria. 

Jeans and trainers are generally not acceptable for an interview unless the interview is for a very casual work environment. Even then, interviewers expect you to have made more of an effort for the first meeting, so only wear casual clothes if you are very sure the look will be acceptable.

Saying hello

You are unlikely to know who will greet you; it could be the interviewer so be prepared to represent yourself well, regardless of whom you meet. Remember people talk, so if you are less friendly to someone, it may be noticed and get repeated later.

When you meet someone, make eye contact, smile and say, “Hello, I am [your name], and I am here to see [name of interviewer] at [time].” If the person you first meet is the person who will be interviewing you, be sure to say something like, “It’s great to meet you, thank you for your time today.” 

Shaking hands

Shaking hands is a great leveller; in the UK we shake hands a lot! If you want to know more about how and why shaking hands is so important to take a look at the video in The Interview section. It would be best if you offered your hand to the person who comes to greet you; make sure you keep your palms as dry as possible and shake their hands in a firm, confident manner.

International companies 

Practice your greeting and make sure it is in line with what you know of the company culture. If you are interviewing for an international company, be sure to research the customs of the parent company to ensure your first impression is the right one.

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