How Employers Judge You in a Millisecond

Posted by | November 8, 2011 | Interview, Tips

There is much to be said for your stellar personality, your accomplished resume, your intelligence and creativity. But don’t bother saying it. It won’t matter if you’re Einstein or Einstein’s pet rock if you can’t get past the first split second of your interview.

Before the first interview question – even before you smile and shake hands – your potential employer may have already closed the door on your chances of gainful employment. Don’t want to find yourself in that boat? Before your next interview, pay close attention to these four things.

1. Your timing

As tempting as the snooze button might be, don’t even think about pushing it. That blissful seven minutes of stolen slumber will get you more than you bargained for: namely, lots of extra snoozes (because you’ll be unemployed). If you’re late for an interview, an employer will often decide not to hire you. They’re thinking, “Wow, if he can’t be on time for an interview, he’s going to be late to work.” If you’re going to be late for circumstances out of your control, you need to call the hiring manager. Explain the situation, be very apologetic, and offer to reschedule if necessary.

2. Your hair and clothes

Regardless of what’s in style, you need to be conservative with your appearance. Excessive hair color, height or product, or any clothing outside of “business” or “business casual,” will leave an impression. But it’s probably not the impression you’re looking to make.

You might be thinking, “This ain’t the ’50s; I should be able to dress how I want.” You’d be correct – anywhere outside of a job interview. Companies want to convey a certain image (or brand), and your crazy hair and outfit might not be the image they’re going for. Also, ain’t ain’t a word, so don’t use it in your interview.

3. Your mouth

Both literally and figuratively. Your mouth can distract the interviewer if it contains gum, a strong odor other than mint, or bits of food (common culprits include spinach, pepper, lettuce and Oreos). Equal to physical distractions are verbal ones. Do your best to avoid slang and words such as “like.” If you’re not sure how to answer a question, try saying, “Let me think about that for a second.” That’ll buy you some time, and it’s a lot better than ummm-ing and hmmm-ing.

4. Your posture

It might seem like a small thing, but posture can make a big difference in how a hiring manager perceives you. Slouching, hunching or leaning can make you look like you don’t really care about the position you’re interviewing for. Be sure to sit up straight, smile, and put on your “eager” face (whatever that looks like).

You’re going to be nervous with a ton of stuff on your mind, but keeping these four things in mind just might be the most important thing you do for yourself. Being punctual, professional, presentable and poised will leave a positive first impression and keep the focus where it should be, on your qualifications for the job.