Ah – the excitement and anticipation of your first job interview. Stepped out of school for the summer and stepping into the ominous work force for the first time. You ask your friends, family, and those who have mastered the process for tips on how to land that job, what to do and what not to do (“What do you mean I can’t wear my Metallica t-shirt?”). Do give them a firm handshake, do appear approachable and sociable, do smile a lot, do act interested in the position and the company. Don’t act reserved and quiet, don’t turn the conversation into a monologue, and most importantly of all, don’t be late.
In addition to improving your body language, these tips and countless others can all be found under the four main rules of leaving a good first impression. And it’s not just for job success either; you can use them when you’re meeting business partners and clients, meeting your in-laws (yikes!), going on that first date, and anything that demands good social networking skills. The basic idea is setting the bar high at the onset of the relationship; just like how it’s much easier to maintain a high G.P.A with a good start than to struggle up to the top with a low grade, a sour relationship is hard to cure because the effects of a bad start is a constant reminder to both of you.
So what are the four basic commandments of a good job interview?
- Be inspirational
One of the major pitfalls of a conversation is when people mindlessly rant about themselves just because they feel they have to. Just because you’re in the spotlight, it doesn’t give you a reason for spewing TMI (too much info). Who cares if your previous manager didn’t have good people skills, ignored your concerns and questions, acted aloof and distant. Not only are you harboring negative energy as a result that stay with you both afterwards, but such vocalized, unstructured ideas are essentially empty (“Well, um okay…but what’s your point?”)
Instead, turn the tables around and be inspirational. Instead of complaining about what bothered you, tell them what you got out of it, how it became a learning experience for you. “In seeing the negative in my manager, I saw the positive. I learned that having good social skills and caring about my employers feel valuable.” By instilling inspiration into the conversation, you make the event memorable (just as how Aesop’s morals are).
- Be funny
Don’t be a log and just sit there passively absorbing what the other person is saying, the color of his/her suit, the pastiness of the walls….(ZZZZZZZ). This is not the time to be an introvert, liven up the conservation by cracking a few (and only a few) jokes here and there. The trick is finding the perfect balance between being serious and being humorous: humor should be light, random, witty, unoffensive. Learn how to move on after the laughs, don’t occupy yourself by constantly thinking of the next joke.
It’s more or less like a Patch-Adams effect: by using humor, you make the other person feel more at ease in a serious (and sometimes grim) situation. You make the person smile as a result, which causes you to smile (and we all know how important it is to smile 🙂 )
- Be engaged
Ask questions (and I don’t mean small talk either), be interested in what they have to say, remind them that isn’t a monologue but rather a dialogue. Ask them about their thoughts of their company, how they felt in a certain situation in their lives, what they think of the restaurant’s ambiance or current events in the news (if the conversation comes to that).
By asking motivating questions, you’re acknowledging their presence as a thinking, feeling, living being and it makes them feel important. It also creates a lively discussion afterwards (because the last thing you both want is to hear crickets chirping).
- Be complimentary
Take a step further in making them feel important by complimenting them. This doesn’t mean you have to suck up with superficial comments but rather tell them how well you thought they handled a certain situation, be amazed at their skills and successes (you could couple this with rule #1 by showing them how inspired you are). The bottom line is: your compliments should be sincere and genuine. Most people will know in an instant when you’re bluffing.
The four basic fundamentals don’t need to be memorized as a laundry list but rather they’re the essential components of the motivation and enthusiasm everyone has when they’re actively engaged in a conversation. You want them to walk away with a strong imprint of you in their heads, increasing your chances of receiving that congratulatory phone call or a promising second date in the future.
via [First Impressions: What You Don’t Know About How Others See You by Ann Phd Demarais and Valerie Phd White]