Acing the First Few Moments of a Job Interview

Acing the First Few Moments of a Job Interview
From Recruiter - August 17, 2016

As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. When it comes to job interviews, you had best make it a good one. Powerful unconscious processes are at work when we first meet someone, and these play a pivotal role in how strongly you impress, in the first few moments, those who interview you.

What are these unconscious processes?

1. Can I Trust You?

First, at an automatic, unconscious level, the interviewer is assessing whether or arefriend or foe and decidinghow muchtrust they can safely extend to you.

In assessing trustworthiness, the primary question that gets askedis, Is this person going to look out for my best interests? If the unconscious answer is Yes, then trust will, tentatively, be extended and the interviewer will be open to you. If the answer is No or I dont know, then the interviewer will become super alert, looking for information that will confirm their initial negative impression.

The tricky thing is that, in an interview situation, many panel members turn up expecting that candidates are trying to dupe them, so gaining trust is not easy.

2. How Important and Valuable Are You?

The second thing that happens automatically and unconsciously is that the interviewer assesses how important and valuable you might be in helping them meet their own goalsof which they are also unconscious.

For example, some of the concerns running in the background for an interviewer might include how happy other team members might be with the person they choose, whether choosing you will make them look good, how likely you might be to help them in their own career goals, and many other self-centered but unconsciousconsiderations.

When forming their first impression of you, the interviewer assigns you a rating of how valuable you are to them and their own goals way before they start assessing how valuable you might be to the organization.

The 5 Elements of Making a Good First Impression

With all this unconscious assessment happening in the background, you have to consciously make sure you are creating a positive first impression that signals you are trustworthy and valuable to the interviewer. Five ways you can do this are:

1. Create Positive Emotional Contagion

Emotions are contagious. Enter the interview with positive emotions, and you will start an upward spiral of positive emotional contagionand the panel will catch your positive mood. Enter the interview with negative emotionssuch as doubt, anxiety, or fearand you will start a downward spiral of negative emotions.

The key here isthat you have to manage your emotions prior to the interview so that you enter the room feeling positive. The panel members will catch your positive emotions and feed them back to you, starting a positive spiral. The danger is that negative spirals are easier to create, considering just how nervous interviews make most of us feel.

2. Be Authentic

There is a fine line between managing the impression you want to make and staying true to who you are. While there are image and body language rules that underpin how open others are to you, these rules should never get in the way of you being genuine and authentic.

It is exhausting to try to appear as you think people want you to appear, and it is almost impossible to keep up the pretense for long. You also dont want the panel to select you based ona false image of who you are, because once you show up on that first day, people will realize the fit is not right.

Humans have sophisticated antenna for spotting fake behavior, and any hint of bullsh*twill lead to mistrust. Dont try to be anyone other than who you are.

3. Attend to Your Image

Your appearance, like it or not, has a significant impact on the first impression you make. Consistent research shows that attractive applicants, when all other factors are controlled, have higher rates of success.


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