First impressions

A hit or a flop: first impressions count

You’ve applied to a company and have been invited to an interview? This means you’re one step closer to your dream job. But you haven’t crossed the finish line yet. There are still a few obstacles to overcome so that the interview is a success.

Preparation is the first step

Never go to the interview unprepared. It does not make a good impression if the human resources manager asks you why you chose that particular company and you have no answer to the question.

It also does not look good if you cannot clearly describe your CV and don’t know what your expectations are. If it makes you feel more confident, practice presenting your professional background with friends.

Furthermore, research everything you can find out about the company on the internet: business development, press releases, employee appraisals. The website will give you an idea of how the company presents itself.

The clothes make the person

You have the appointment for the interview and now you're standing in front of the wardrobe. You should take plenty of time to choose your clothes too, because it is important that you are appropriately dressed. Flip-flops and ripped jeans are taboo, even if they are really fashionable.

Remember, non-verbal signals like gestures, body language and clothing can decide whether you will be successful in the first few seconds. Untidy hair, creased trousers or unpleasant body odour will not make you likeable. You can’t go wrong with a classic suit or outfit – regardless of the company you’re applying to.  

Anyone who turns up late punishes themselves

Anyone who likes to sleep late, take their time in the morning and usually catches the train five minutes before an appointment should avoid all this on the day of the interview. You must be absolutely punctual. Take an earlier train or leave early in the car – it's better to talk a walk around the block or have a coffee beforehand than to arrive too late.

And what if something really does hold you up? Then make sure your mobile phone is charged and you have the name of your interviewer. If absolutely necessary, make a call and explain the reason for your delay.

Hello, I’m the applicant

Are you less confident and nervous? That is normal and understandable, but no reason to take someone with you to the interview for safety. This person might dominate the discussion in the end. Human resources managers have seen it all. You have to present yourself as the applicant, not anyone else. Do not make a call home during the interview to inform someone about how it is going.

These rules for how to behave will make you seem confident:

  • Address your interviewer by name and look them in the eye.
  • Lots of shaking hands, confident, not limp, not too firm.
  • Look out for your body language when you’re sitting down – upright and attentive.

Dialogue not monologue

As you talk you will gradually become quieter and more relaxed. That’s why it’s important to stay concentrated and listen. You’ve prepared well, you know a lot now, but allow your interviewer to talk too. This is how to make a good dialogue happen. Contribute what you know, but don’t get too presumptuous and suggest changes. Ask the questions you wrote down in advance. It is no problem to take out some notes containing your most important questions.

  • Why was this job advertised?
  • What are the biggest challenges?
  • Does the company invest in further training?

By asking these questions, you show that you have prepared and are really interested in the job.

It’s also important that you never talk badly of your previous employer. Emphasise why you find the company so interesting and that you are willing to change jobs.

Honesty is the best policy

Of course you want this job more than anything. But at what cost? It won’t help you if you present yourself in a better light than is really the case during the interview or pretend to be able to do things you have never heard of. Don’t pretend to be what you’re not. The opposite, show them who you really are, because it’s not just about qualifications, but your personality too. The human resources manager wants to know if you will fit into the team. And how long will it take for you to be unhappy in a position that doesn't really suit you?