How to Make a Good First Impression at an Interview

3 minute read

Did you know that your interview often begins as soon as you walk in the door? It’s common for the receptionist or member of staff who greets you to take mental notes while you wait, looking at how you present yourself and your attitude. Whether you’re in a waiting room or in the middle of the main office, you’re often being observed. To increase your chances of being hired, we’ve put together some easy tips on how to make a good first impression at an interview. Let’s dive in.

Don’t let your manners slip

From the moment you walk through the door, you need to be polite. Other members of staff will be looking out for good character, and if you’re friendly, relaxed, and make a positive first impression, you might be more likely to get the job.

Try to control your nerves so that they don’t get in the way, and act as you would in the interview. Stay relaxed, stay focused, don’t forget to smile and remember to breathe.

Leave food and drinks behind

It’s a good idea to never bring food or drinks into the office space where you’re interviewing. Even if you’re in a designated waiting room away from other staff, it’s best to leave your snacks outside.

Finish anything you have to eat or drink before you go inside, with the exception of a bottle of water if you need it, and don’t leave any smelly food items in your bag.

Follow the procedures

Different charities will have different procedures. Be sure to follow the guidance of the receptionist or member of staff who’s welcoming you. Common procedures can include a sign in and out sheet and filling out a feedback form after the interview. Whatever you’re asked to do, follow along without making a fuss and try not to seem flustered.

close up of person's hand filling in a form

Be aware of your posture

Your potential colleagues will make a note of your posture—even if they don’t realise it. Your posture says so much about how you’re feeling and will let others know whether you’re confident or not. Sit up straight in your chair, relax your shoulders so that you’re not stiff and don’t fidget too much. Get the posture right and everything else will follow.

Keep your phone in your bag

It’s almost second nature to reach for our mobiles when there’s nothing to do these days. But when waiting for an interview, keep yours safely tucked away and on silent.

If you take it out to pass the time, it’ll look as though you’re distracted and unbothered. On the same line of thought, don’t check your watch for the time, as you’ll only end up looking impatient.

To chat or not to chat?

Being friendly is okay, and you’re welcome to ask your first point of contact what their name is and how they are, but don’t force conversation. If they initiate some chit-chat, that’s fine, but leave it up to them. In many smaller charities, you’ll be waiting in the main office rather than a waiting room, so keeping conversation to a minimum is respectful, so as not to distract from their work.

two women sitting on a sofa talking, one is filling in a form on a clipboard

Talk quietly

When you do get the chance to talk, keep your voice quiet. There will likely be other people trying to focus in the area and you don’t want your voice to interrupt their flow; that’s definitely not a good first impression at an interview!

Someone who waits quietly and patiently is a far more appealing future team member than someone who is overly loud.

Never take a job search call

Avoid taking calls from other charities where you’ve applied for a job. If you do, it’ll give the impression that you’re not invested in the current job you’re interviewing for and is a huge red flag for anyone around you. You’ll also be talking in the office space, which, as we know already, is a no-no.

Use the time to prepare

Rather than fiddling on your phone or chatting with staff, take the time before an interview to focus. Calm your nerves, prepare for the interview and practice your answers in your head by going over key points and the values of the specific charity that you’re applying to. If you feel yourself getting flustered, visualise yourself getting the job. This is a technique used by professional athletes that can do wonders for settling those pre-interview butterflies.

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How to make a good first impression in a video interview

If your interview is via video call, a lot of waiting room etiquette still applies. Whether you’re in the interview or waiting for your turn, follow the guidelines above. To make a good first impression, don’t go on your phone, don’t check your watch and definitely don’t eat any food.

Make sure the space around you is neat, too, and that you’re dressed appropriately and won’t have any distractions while you go through the process. Even if you think you’re on your own in the video call, keep your composure and don’t let your professionalism drop. You never know who’s watching!

Final Words

Waiting for an interview can be a nerve-wracking experience. Fortunately, these tips should help you make a great first impression and increase your chances of getting the job. Now all that’s left is to go in there and do your best—good luck!

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Daniel Groves

Daniel Groves achieved a 1st class honours degree in Business Economics. Since graduating, Daniel has collaborated with a number of online publications and charities to further develop his knowledge and share his experience with like-minded entrepreneurs, business owners and growth strategists.

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