First impressions are key, does yours fit the lock?

By Ben Newnum. Click here for his blog or tweet Ben: @advice_employ

At some point in your life someone will have said “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”. They’re absolutely right. It goes without saying (but I will anyway), that you must get it right the first time.
S.M.I.L.E. is an acrostic I’ve developed to help you remember exactly what to do on your first time encounters. A case in point could be an interview; imagine that you’re sitting at reception waiting for your interviewer to come down and meet you…

S is for Smile
As your interviewer approaches to greet you, be sure to smile. In a first encounter situation it proves you to be approachable, ‘kind’ and warm. Nobody wants to meet a moody, dull interviewee. If they do, you’ll find that their immediate impression is negative and there’s a high possibility their performance will decrease; resulting in a serious lack of effort for your interview.

M is for Maintain
Maintain that Smile! You’re not expected to hold a Cheshire grin for the duration, but maintain the cheery warm face. To have your pearly whites on display at handshake and then your mundane Monday morning face two minutes later is no good – nobody wants to work with the person that has mood swings. Maintain the positivity!

I is for Interact
Interaction is paramount; you need to engage with your interviewer like a cog in a Rolex. Be helpful, polite and forward thinking. Ask serious, well thought of questions. Don’t underestimate the power of asking somebody how they are. Everyone enjoys talking about themselves and immediately it sets you apart from the rest.
Interaction is not a walk in the park, particularly if the person you’re trying to interact with is having a really bad day. Persevere though; a flowing conversation is a good conversation, not a forced one.

L is for Look
Look has two aspects. The first, more obvious one is to look good; dress for the occasion. If you’re going for a job in a record store, get the skinny jeans and leather jacket out. If it’s Goldman Sachs you’re about to meet, shave the stubble and press your shirt! Dress for your audience. Understandably, you may not know what their employees wear, so call ahead and ask. You don’t need to give your name, just ask for the general dress code. Don’t forget though, smarter is better than scruffier.
The other look is to be observational. As you’re taken through the building ask questions: “I noticed there’s a TV screen above every bank of computers, why is that?” “Did I just see loads of ties that have been cut in half on a notice board?” People like observant characters; it says a lot about you and helps the conversation.

E is for Express
It’s important to come across ‘right’ in a first time encounter. Think ahead and consider what person your interviewer is looking for. Once you know this you can express yourself knowing your interviewer is receptive.
Be expressive about your passions for the position and your hobbies. Express your beliefs and feelings; you’ll get an interesting discussion out of it rather than the normal “weathers good isn’t it”.

So, when you’re waiting for your interviewer to arrive, remember to S.M.I.L.E. and you should have a much more productive encounter!

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