A well-written cover letter, a resume with plenty of relevant experience, and a glowing reference are all necessary when you're applying for jobs, but they're far from everything you’ll need to really impress your interviewer.
What will help set you apart from the other candidates is the way you dress, your body language, and the way you carry yourself. Presenting yourself professionally will ensure that you make a great first impression and will help you feel more confident.
Here are some key tips on presenting yourself during an interview that are sure to give you a leg up on your job search:
Dressing for success
First, you need to look the part. Even though office standards are relaxing, you still want to look and feel great during the interview. It’ll boost your confidence and show your potential employer that you really care about the opportunity.
One of the worst things you can do is wait until the day of your interview to get everything sorted. Instead of leaving it to chance, be prepared! Opt for trying on your outfit several days in advance. That way, if you need to buy a new outfit, hit the dry cleaners, or get a haircut, you have plenty of time to do so.
Here are our tips to dress for success and ensure your first impression is a positive one:
Dress for the job and the company. In other words, if you are interviewing for a mid-senior or executive level position, a suit and most likely a tie (for men) will see you presented in a professional manner. A suit with a jacket for women is also a good first impression.
Unless you are interviewing for an ultra-conservative environment, colours don’t matter so long as they are complementary. A ‘creative’ organisation will view your attire as a sign of your personality, but that is not an excuse to wear your ‘loudest’ outfit – it still has to be professional.
If your interview is through an agency such as Richard Lloyd Recruitment, we will always give you pointers on what to wear based on the company environment.
Make sure your shoes are comfortable, clean, and polished. This is a sign that you have good attention to detail as these are little things that can be overlooked.
Neat, tidy, and washed hair is a given, as is a neatly trimmed beard or cleanly shaven face.
Remember that this is a ‘day’ job, so don’t wear your nightclub makeup – keep it natural.
Hygiene is critical when it comes to meeting the hiring manager face to face. It is generally in an enclosed meeting room, so don’t overdo the perfume or aftershave, and if you have had to rush to get there on a summer’s day, ensure you have some deodorant handy just in case.
Don’t go overboard on the jewellery. Once again, you are meeting the hiring manager for what might be your dream job and not hitting a bar after work.
For interviews that are taking place online, our advice above should be no different. You still need to make a good first impression and even more so when it is virtually.
Nailing the first impressions
The way you look, the way you present yourself, the way you talk to people, and the way you shake their hand is everything. The first impression has a lot of say in whether your relationship will be five minutes, the full hour of the interview, or lifelong.
Another huge contributing factor to your first impression is whether you’re on time for an interview. Punctuality shows courtesy and enthusiasm, and if the choice is down to you or an equally qualified candidate who showed up 15 minutes late to their interview, the decision becomes much easier.
Why leave your first impression in a job interview up to chance?
Leave for the interview earlier than you think you should even if there’s only the remote possibility that traffic could be bad or you get lost at the last minute. You can always find a coffee shop nearby to calm your nerves and while away the time to look over your interview notes. The last thing you need is to arrive flustered and sweating because you are running late.
When you arrive and meet your interviewer, follow their lead with respect to their introduction. The handshake is making its return and becoming more common, however, there is the option of the “Covid elbow bump”. If you do shake hands, keep it firm, but avoid an aggressive grip. Whichever method it is, ensure you smile and make eye contact when doing so.
When they say their name, repeat it back to them so you don’t forget it, and be sure to provide your full name immediately after.
Improving your body language
Body language is also extremely important in the way you present yourself and communicate with others. Some body language tips are no-brainers, such as chewing gum, but others are a little less obvious.
For starters, make sure you smile often. Smile when you meet people. Smile through your answers and smile when you say goodbye. This shows enthusiasm and will make you seem friendly - like someone they may like to have as a colleague.
When you take a seat, make it a point to sit facing your interviewers and sit up straight, but try to be comfortable. Avoid bobbing your knee, tapping a pen, or biting your fingernails as fidgeting tends to give off anxious vibes. Stay as calm and collected as you can.
A few other tips would include not putting your elbows on the table or crossing your arms. These types of body language are very negative and can be perceived as very closed from a communication perspective.
Furthermore, look your interviewers in the eye when you are speaking with them. Try not to glance around when talking as this can often question your integrity and truthfulness. Obviously, staring is not the answer either.
The way you present and carry yourself sets the tone for the entire interview. Make it a point to improve your body language and your attire, and you’re almost guaranteed to make a lasting impression.
If you're seeking career opportunities in the accounting field, contact the experts at Richard Lloyd to find out how we can help.
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