First Impressions Count

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First Impressions Count

When you are applying for a job, it’s likely the boss will make up his or her mind within seconds of seeing you. That may seem unfair when you are then interviewed in depth for another hour but it’s just a natural human reaction. One survey found that an astonishing 90 per cent of small business owners recruited on gut feeling rather than qualifications.

It’s wrong of course – and many of those bosses will have paid the price of recruiting the wrong person – but it’s worth remembering when applying for a job. What you’re wearing, whether you’ve brushed your hair – even whether you have bad breath – will all help create that vital first impression.

So the basics first: 

* Dress smart and appropriately. A sharp – but not too sharp – suit is usually best but if you’re applying for a manual job then consider ‘smart casual’ wear.

* Clean shoes, combed hair and clean hands will not only make a good impression on the boss but will help put you in the right state of mind

* Handbags and briefcases. How old is your handbag or brief case? For the sake of a few pounds, buying a new one could just give you the edge. Even if you’re carrying a few loose papers in with you, why not search out a smart looking folder from WH Smith to carry them in.

 But what will wow your interviewer is that elusive X-factor best summed up as ‘confidence’. Many people will obviously be nervous at an interview – and bosses will allow for that – but walk in with an air of confidence (but not arrogance) and warmly greet your potential boss and you’re halfway to getting that job. Psychologists offer these tips to help reduce stress and give you that winning aura: 

* Practice. Spend some time with a member of your family practising being interviewed. They won’t know what questions will be asked but even mock interviews will help put you at ease.

* Deep breaths. Breathe long and slow while waiting to be called in for the interview. And don’t rush to answer questions. Pause and think for a moment. The boss will appreciate you’re taking time to give the right answer.

* Accept you’re going to make mistakes. If you go in aiming for perfection you’ll crumble at your first fluffed line. Accept you’re mortal, apologise if you make a mistake and try again.

* Visualise your interviewer as a friend, not as an enemy. The majority of bosses will be keen to help you give a good account of yourself. 

If nerves are a serious problem for you and you believe they are costing you job interviews then it may be time for serious action. Drama schools exist in every town and voice coaches are never far behind. There you can learn to tackle nerves, present yourself and interact well with other people. I’m not saying you need to literally “put on act” but the techniques used by actors to command a stage presence and project their voice could make you really stand out from the crowd when it comes to winning the dream job.