So many parents, clients and young people have asked us so many times what they can do to get a job, promotion or just make a great impression when they are meeting someone for the first time. What seems easy to some people is the hardest skill for others. Recent research (2017) shows that Millennial’s have fewer connections in the brain that identify the moods of others than their parents do; meaning thanks to time spent looking at screens instead of faces, younger generations may find job interviews and important face-to-face meetings more difficult than ever to navigate and nail! This is for everyone that wants to make a great first impression and succeed in what they are selling; whether that is yourself, an idea, a product or service.
Sell yourself from the start
Your opportunity to sell yourself starts from the moment you secure a meeting, whether it is for a job, promotion, to get a date or just make friends. Do your research on the company who will be interviewing you, your date, or whomever you are going to meet. If it is a job interview, do research on what the company stands for and make it your mission to become an expert on their vision, brand, culture, and the role you are applying for. Look at the tone of information the company shares on-line and this will give you a very clear picture of what they are looking for.
If you are going for a creative position have some examples in your folder to show them you have done your research and these are your ideas. If it is a sales job then you need to come up with some great sales tips or what market you think that they should be chasing. Show them that you really want the job, that you are a forward-thinking, interesting, self- motivated person. Not just someone who is turning up to see if they get the job.
If you’re asking for a promotion from within, the same applies. What is changing now or in the future that you can be part of. What ideas do you bring to the table that align with current and future company plans. The obvious place to start is online, but remember there are lots of ways to find out information.
Ask people who work in the organisation (secretaries can be a wealth of information), research competitors, find out the future of the industry. All this information not only helps you with your interview but will also give you a great head start if you get the job.
Assume Visibility from the Start
Before your arrival make sure you have a clean and tidy car. When we want to know what a person is like, we will send one of our staff numbers to the carpark and look at their car to see if it’s clean and tidy as this is a big indicator of how their life is run and what their organisational skills are. Assume from the minute you arrive (or even as you’re on route) you will be accessed, whether it is how respectful you are to the road rules, how you treat the staff that are not interviewing you, your manners, and the way that you are dressed.
You should also assume your potential employer, date or sales prospect has checked you out line, so keep a professional and friendly attitude within your public social media profiles.
When you approach, have your introduction planned and rehearsed in advance.
‘Hi, my name is Barbara Pease and I have an appointment with Mrs Smith at 9.15am.’
Make the receptionist your friend as this person is the gate keeper and will also give you feedback of their impressions of you.
If they like you they will give you information on your prospect that will give you an advantage above all the other applicants. Be Real! People know when you are being fake! Never, never make a pass at a receptionist no matter how fabulous they are: you need to be professional.
Pro Tip: The receptionist will always invite you to sit down. Don’t do it! Thank the receptionist but always stand so that you are not slumped down in a seat when your interviewer comes out to get you.
When you met your interviewer for the first time make sure you extend your hand for the handshake. Your folder must already be in your left handso that you are free to shake with your right hand. Make sure you are smiling showing your teeth. A tight-lipped smile will tell others that you are not really interested or happy to be applying for this job. Make sure you have your first question ready! Be practised so that it just flows out like….
‘Tell me what it is like working for XYZ company.’
Prepare some open-ended questions in advance so that you’re not talking about yourself the entire time.
Remember our tips from Easy Peasey People Skills For Life:
People love to talk about their favourite subject – themselves.
If you want someone to pay attention to you and like you, ask lots of questions that get them talking about their interests.
Keep conversation flowing with sounds like mmm hmmm… and phrases like; “meaning…??” and “tell me more….”
Make sure you arrive just ahead of your interview time. You want enough time to relax and have a chance to engage thoughtfully with the receptionist, but not too much time that you’re pacing the waiting area making yourself and others feel uncomfortable. Always silence your phone – it’s safest to do this from the moment you leave the house so that you don’t forget.
Body Language of Confidence
Body language is an outward reflection of your emotions. Whether you’re going for an interview, promotion or date, the person you meet face-to-face will form up to 90% of their impression of you in the first four minutes. And it’s your body language that will do most of the talking. Remember these tips from our book The Definitive Book of Body Language:
Remember our tips from Easy Peasey People Skills For Life:
Eye contact shows interest and creates rapport between people
Hiding behind a barrier (like crossing your arms or legs) is a normal response we learn at an early age to protect ourselves.
To demonstrate that you’re confident and open, you must practise sitting and standing without your arms and legs crossed.
Avoid hand-to-face touching as this will be interpreted that you’re hiding something, even if you’re not
Equally, don’t hug your folder, cup or use a pen to cover your face.
Practice these skills so that when it comes to the real thing, you feel comfortable without props, and your body remains open.
If there are multiple people in a panel or a group that you’re talking to, make sure you address each person, making eye- contact with everyone.
Whether we like it or not, clothing and physical appearance is one of the first things you are judged on when you meet someone for the first time.
Your choice of clothes should match the style of the person or company you’re meeting. Of course you can show your individual character, but remember you’re selling yourself, so the best way to do this is to look like you are a natural fit.
The power of primacy & recency
The first thing we hear (primacy) and last thing we hear (recency) is what we tend to remember the most in any conversation. So make sure you have a well rehearsed opening and closing line as this will likely make the biggest impact.
Prepare for the most common first questions and last questions in the interview (you’ll find plenty online and by the time you’ve researched your potential employer and the company, you should have a good idea of which questions will apply to you).
Also try to limit your main points to three, so that your message is repeated several times. You’ll come across as clear, confident, and successful if you do.
Impress with your follow up
At the end of any meeting, whether it’s an interview, sales pitch, or date, thank the person for their time and establish when the right time is to follow up.
‘Would you be happy for me to call you on Monday?’
This shows once again that you are professional, organised, and interested. As soon as you’ve left, make sure you write yourself a reminder to follow up with the call when you promised to.