Ten First Impression Mistakes that Might Be Sabotaging Your Interview

Here are 10 mistakes you’ll want to avoid to create the best first impression.

You went through the job search process patiently waiting for next steps. Finally, you receive a phone call from the company you’ve been interested in for as long as you can remember and they want to interview you in person! You’re ecstatic by the news but that feeling turns into worry. How will I convince them to hire me? What can I do to leave a positive impression?

Your impressions have been good up to this point. But now that you are about to meet the hiring manager, it’s crucial to nail it. A recent survey from OnePoll found that it takes only 27 seconds for someone to evaluate and form an opinion of another person. It’s daunting to think how little time you’ll have to shape that initial judgement.

Here are 10 mistakes you’ll want to avoid to create the best first impression.

  1. Arriving too early- Obviously arriving late to an interview is bad. But arriving too early is equally annoying. Fifteen minutes is good; 30 minutes not so much. Now the interviewer feels pressured or rushed to get to you. If you arrive earlier than necessary, sit in your car and do some last minute prep. Look in the mirror to take care of any touchups, review your resume and the job description a final time, scroll through the company’s LinkedIn page to come up with additional questions, and take a few deep breaths to calm any nerves.
  2. Inappropriate attire- Find out the dress code for the company, then take it up one notch. Choose clothing that is up-to-date and age appropriate. Do not show up in anything dirty or torn, and ladies, please take it easy on the perfume. You don’t want to give anyone an asthma attack. Be mindful of accessories as well, such as jewelry, handbag, briefcase, etc. And don’t forget the obvious, a fresh and clean appearance. Planning your outfit in advance will guarantee looking like your best self at the interview.
  3. Lousy handshake- No limp noodles or bone crushing grips, please. Your grip should be balanced between those. Practice with family and friends to ensure your handshake measures up.
  4. Too little or too much eye contact- Holding eye contact for too long can make the interviewer feel uncomfortable, or it may be interpreted as a dominance move. On the other hand, too little eye contact can be perceived as unprepared, nervous or lack of caring. A good rule of thumb is to make eye contact for 30%-60% of the time. Less when you are talking and more when you are listening.
  5. Poor posture- If you slouch or lean and rest against the back of the chair you’re sitting in, the interviewer will 100% think that you don’t care and don’t want to be there. Sit up straight. This will help you appear confident and engaged.
  6. Hidden hands- Showing your hands is a sign of trust. Don’t keep them plastered to your lap while you speak to the interviewer. This will make you look stiff and uncomfortable. Instead, use hand gestures with your verbal communication.
  7. Interrupting or talking too much- Constantly interrupting someone while they speak is rude. Dominating the conversation and not allowing others to talk is just as off-putting. Good communication skills are important in the work place so you don’t want to come across as a poor communicator. Be polite. Give others a chance to talk and let them finish before you speak, and remember to actively listen.
  8. How you treat or speak to anyone at the interview site- Don’t think the receptionist won’t let the hiring manager know if you were rude or acting unprofessional while waiting. This even includes holding or opening the door for others. Stay professional and courteous the entire time you are onsite, even when driving through the parking lot.
  9. Chewing gum in the interview- This could be very distracting to the interviewer, taking focus away from the conversation because they’re watching you chomp away. You want their full attention, especially if you are a good candidate. Spit gum out before or opt for sugar-free mints.
  10. Forgetting to turn your cellphone to silent or even worse, answering it in the middle of the interview! No explanations needed here.