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In job hunting as in life, few things rival the power of a great first impression. Whether accurate or not, the effects of first impressions tend to follow us around and influence how we are perceived long after the first meeting. Even the perfect resume, experience and professional network can fall short in the face of an awkward or negative first encounter with a recruiter or potential employer.

Learning to control the common factors responsible for sabotaging a first impression – from nerves and anxiety to awkward body language – can ensure you put your best foot forward as soon as you walk through the door, and create a lasting impression of yourself that is positive, proactive and professional.

Taking Control of How You’re Perceived – The Art of Making a Good First Impression

Most job interviews are about more than just your experience and credentials. Recruiters and hiring managers are also looking for the nonverbal cues and tell-tale signs you are confident, poised, and will make a good addition to the team and the organization. Your resume and work history tell them about your skills, experience, and education, but the interview is also about determining whether you will fit in and add value to the company’s overall culture.

Even if you’re an introvert or just starting out in the business world or your chosen field, there are a few tricks that will help you master your interviewing skills and make a first impression that will inspire your interviewers to hire, recommend and advocate on your behalf.

According to industry data,15 minutes is all it takes to form a general opinion during a job interview. But the truth is the clock starts ticking the moment you walk through the door, and a few seconds is all it can take to solidify an interviewer’s opinion of you – before they’ve even asked you a single question.

Play It Cool

Being nervous during a job interview is normal, and normal jitters won’t necessarily hurt you. It’s how you handle your nerves that can make or break an interview, even for the most qualified candidates. If you’re a nervous talker, for example, take some time to work on your conversational skills, so you don’t babble or let the interviewer get a word in.

Smile, shake hands and make eye contact with your interviewer to build rapport and project confidence (even if you’re not feeling confident). Remember to sit up straight and don’t fidget. When in doubt, follow the interviewer’s cues and body language.

Ask Smart Questions

Remember, interviews are a two-way street. In addition to showcasing your experience and personality in the best light, it is also an opportunity to determine whether the position is right for you. Intelligent and well-researched questions about the role, the company, and the industry will impress your interviewer and help you understand the job much better.

Perfect Your Soundbites

They’ve already read your resume, but you will still have to discuss your experience. Create a targeted and conversational summary of your professional and life skills and experience and how they relate to the position.

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