10 Things That Ruin Your First Impression In An Interview – HR Tips with Selina Buabeng

First impressions count and especially in interviews, making a great first impression can be the difference between getting an offer or being passed on for another candidate. Making a good first impression goes beyond your delivery during the interview or the skills and expertise you possess. It’s about your appearance, poise, character, work ethics, demeanour etc. These are the things you say without having to say them. In order to make the most of these defining moments, let’s take a look at ten (10) critical things that can work in your favor or against you.

1. Wearing the wrong attire

The interviewer will see you before they hear you so you need to look presentable. Regardless of the position, you are seeking, try to be conservative in your choice of clothing. Be well-groomed and don’t use heavy perfume or tons of make-up. Generally, a job interview calls for you to wear professional or business attire. This is important because a recruiter’s first judgment is based on how you look and what you are wearing. Therefore, you need to dress according to how you want to be addressed.

2. Being late

Lateness usually indicates that you’re not organised. Leave your house early enough so that you don’t have to run to your meeting feeling dishevelled and unprepared.

3. Looking tired, unfriendly and excessively nervous

It is perfectly fine to be nervous before the interview but you do not have to let anxiety affect your delivery during the interview. Looking tired may come across as laziness,  unfriendliness may come across as pride, rudeness, arrogance and being excessively nervous will come across as incompetence and timidity. To avoid any of these situations, there is the need to prepare ahead of time for the interview.

4. Slouching in the chair during an interview

Your body language or posture during can say a lot about you during an interview so you need to ensure that you are not caught off guard. Sit or stand in a comfortable upright position when sitting and standing, so you do not send out wrong signals to your interviewer or recruiter.

5. Avoiding eye contact

People who maintain eye contact are often seen as confident, trustworthy, and attentive. Avoiding it simply indicates your insincerity so don’t be afraid to lock eyes with your interviewer or the person asking the questions from time to time instead of constantly looking around, especially when you meet them for the first time. Making eye contact indicates you have an interest in what they are saying. Be pleasant and attentive throughout the interview.

6. Keeping your hands in the wrong position

Be mindful of where you place your hands when sitting in an interview. If you decide to put your hands on the table, avoid squeezing them too tight. Do not keep them in your pockets because this gives the impression that you’re hiding something. It is necessary to use your hands expressively when appropriate but overdoing it may become quite distracting.

7. Making distractive noise 

Cracking your knuckles or tapping your feet or fidgeting in your seat gives the interviewer a wrong impression about you, simply avoid it.

8. Playing with your hair, tie or other objects

Candidates unconsciously tend to play or fidget with objects and their hair when they are tensed, shy or under pressure. These actions send out bad signals which usually tell the recruiter you are not confident but rather nervous. Avoid doing these things in an interview as they send off wrong signals.

9. Checking your phone

Most of us are addicted to our phones and cannot do without checking our phones every few minutes. Nonetheless, you come across as an extremely impolite person who has no interest in what the interviewer is saying or is an indication that the interviewer is boring you. Before you are called in for the interview, always make sure to put your phone on silent mode or switch off your phone.

10. Not controlling your speaking style

Speech and vocal changes affect the way people perceive you. Candidates usually adjust the sound of their voices without knowing what they are doing. Volume, clarity, speed and tone all suggest different things about your confidence and comfort. Your voice might decrease when you’re around someone you find intimidating, increase when talking too fast, or mumbling when you’re unsure of your statements. 

First impressions are extremely valuable in the interview process. You must create a connection with your recruiter from the second you step into the interview room right till the end.