You have five minutes to make a good first impression
An experienced recruiter or headhunter will know within the first five to 10 minutes of an interview whether a candidate is suitable. First impressions are very important in an interview, especially for senior positions. After all, companies expect their key executives to make a good first impression when meeting clients or promoting their services.
Candidates may not know how to impress an interviewer if they have been with one employer for most of their career. Subtle mannerisms, such as your handshake, how you sit and position yourself across the table, body language, hand gestures, appearance and attire, as well as language use, communication and interpersonal skills, will leave either a positive or negative impression.
Even if you are highly competent in your field and have excellent academic qualifications, if you cannot make a good first impression, your chance of winning the job will not be high.
Senior executives should look the part; corporate attire is expected for interviews. If you are not neat and tidy, you risk sending the message you do not respect the company or the interview.
Some candidates may have a valid reason for wearing casual clothes – they may have just travelled from mainland China or overseas, or they may not wish to alert their current employer to the fact that they are attending an interview. This is fine, but such candidates should communicate these reasons to the recruiter.
To make the right impression, you will also need to have the right attitude. You should be upbeat, positive and full of energy. Do not show low energy levels or an unenthusiastic attitude. Smile, be approachable and show confidence. A winning attitude shows you want to win the job.
Being able to impress within the first few minutes is a skill anyone can acquire or learn. Many candidates focus only on the technical knowledge needed for the job and overlook the many other criteria they will be judged by.
Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression
Fiona Yung is executive director at Tricor Executive Resources