Even the most professional interviewer is a human being first and a professional second. But however nervous you feel, you must not enter the room looking and feeling like a victim. There are just three things to concentrate on at the start of the interview: your eyes, your mouth and your hands:
Eyes: make contact, but don't stare!
A great deal of communication between two people takes place through the eyes, so look at the interviewer. Aim for an open, confident gaze rather than a fixed stare, but do look. Remember, they liked you enough to invite you for an interview, so they will be happy to see you. The interviewer is not your enemy – there’s nothing they want more than a successful interview. Maintain a decent level of eye contact throughout the interview, but especially at the start.
Mouth: a smile will get you off to a good start
With the odd exception, interviewers are normal people who will respond positively if you appear in the interview room with a smile on your face. You may feel more like crying than smiling but resist the temptation. Don’t force yourself but do give it a try. What usually happens, unless the interviewer is a Vulcan, is that they smile back. The ice is broken and you have leapt the first hurdle.
Hands: get your handshake right
Ah yes, the handshake. You normally get one at the start and this little act can have immense consequences. A flabby wet handshake, a limp lettuce or a bone-crusher all leave their mark on the interviewer’s psyche and it can be several minutes before the effect wears off. Go, if you can, for the middle ground – firm and dry. If you don’t know what kind of handshake you have, practise on a friend.
You need to start thinking about your first impression before you even get to the interview. Yep, a huge part of the employer’s first impression of you will be determined by your outfit. It’s important to wear suitable clothing, be neat and tidy, and smartly dressed.
You can practise interviews using resources available from our partners Shortlist.Me.