Movie star car thieves may steal fabulous cars in 60 seconds, but your chance to make a great first impression is gone in 10 seconds! So, it’s important to plan ahead to deliver all the elements of a great first impression in job interviews and at networking events; visual, auditory, tactile, and professional elements are key.
Dress up. You don’t need to wear a tux to most networking events or interviews, but you should dress for the position you’re seeking. A good suit is always appropriate, as even in casual workplace environments, a suit says you’re fully engaged and serious about your presentation. A clean-shaven face, neatly groomed hair, and simple jewelry choices are best.
Smile. A sincere smile is always a great accessory, making people feel welcome to the conversation.
Maintain eye contact. If you’re speaking to a group or interviewing with multiple hiring influencers, take a few beats to make eye contact with everyone while you’re speaking. Long enough to identify eye color is enough time to establish a connection.
Speak up. Speak clearly and confidently, without yelling. Practice giving answers without uptalking, vocal fry, or other common mannerisms that make you seem uninterested or unsure of yourself. Don’t rush your answers.
Think. Take a moment to think of an answer before you begin. This prevents awkward pauses once you have begun your answer.
Listen. Communication is two-way, so listening attentively is as important as being well-spoken.
Shake hands. Use the proper handshake for your region. There are different styles preferred globally, so practice the handshake preferred in the part of the world where you find yourself.
Maintain an appropriate distance. Along with the handshake, there are regional preferences in the amount of personal space. Americans and Canadians prefer more personal space than the Japanese, for instance.
Prepare. Have your elevator pitch or group introduction ready, and make sure you arrive with an extra copy of your resume and cover letter just in case it’s needed. Know your own resume, so you don’t stumble over facts that are about you!