The first few minutes of an interview are crucial and can be a make-or-break factor. First impressions are really important and will last long after you leave the room.
Learning how to make a memorable impact in a few minutes is a powerful tool that applies to all interviews. There may be a time in your job-hunting adventures when you come across a speed interview — the interview version of speed dating — in which you have a limited time span to convince an interviewer to hire you. Or perhaps you'll bump into a manager hiring for a position at a networking event and need to sell yourself in a quick conversation. Here are some tips for a lasting impression.
1. Pick one good story that wows
If you only have a few minutes to make an impact, prepare one really memorable story that displays the qualities the hiring manager is looking for. It should be something that showcases an instance when you went above and beyond and an example that is truly unique. It could be a women's group you spearheaded at work or maybe even a pop-up restaurant you started on the side.
2. Get your posture right
Posture is really important in an interview, and people can instantly associate negative traits with you if you slouch. Stand and sit up straight, and walk confidently into a room with measured steps.
3. Master the smile
Be sure to smile to put your interviewer at ease, but be natural. Don't smile too much, or you may seem nervous. Practice in a mirror to perfect the smile.
4. Have warm, dry hands
Wipe your hands before the interview, and be sure to do it without the interviewer looking. You might want to rub your hands together as well to warm them up. Make sure you have a firm grasp when you shake hands, because you definitely don't want a limp handshake.
5. Wear a pop of color
If it's appropriate, try adding some color to your outfit to make yourself stand out among the drab grays and blacks. Your whole outfit doesn't have to be bright red, but you can choose statement earrings or a cute scarf to stand out.
6. Be concise
One of the biggest mistakes to make during a short interview is rambling. Your interviewer may lose focus, and you might not be able to get to all your points if you're not succinct. Practice making your answers as concise as you can.
7. Think in bullet points
For every answer, try to think in bullet points. This will help you be more succinct and pace yourself with your answers. Pro tip: prepare for the interview questions by writing out the answers in bullet points.
8. Watch the time — but be subtle
If you're aware of the time, your answers won't be rushed and you'll be able to say everything you want to say during the interview. Try to time yourself when you're practicing for the interview, and this skill will become second nature to you.
9. Show passion
Enthusiasm is infectious, and all employers want their hires to really want the specific position. There's no bigger turnoff than the feeling that the person you're interviewing just wants something to pay the bills. A passionate interviewee can be an indicator of someone who will take initiative, work hard, and bring something new to the table.
10. Follow up with a memorable email
Your interviewer may be interviewing dozens of candidates, so a follow-up email will be a nice reminder of who you are. Personalize your email, bring up something you really enjoyed talking about during your conversation, and maybe even allude to what makes you different from the other candidates. Not following up is one of the biggest pet peeves of a hiring manager, and you'll be surprised how much it can help with scoring the job.