In most situations, you will be shown to a waiting area, quite possibly directly within the eye gaze of the receptionist, administrative assistant, etc. Here are a few ways you can make the most of your wait, to bring extra wow factor to your first impression. Because here’s the truth of the situation. The hiring manager will ask the front person for their initial feedback on you.
Leave your phone on silent in your purse.
Don’t bring it out while you wait. Why? Because you’ll instantly look different from everyone else, if you are sitting up confidently rather than hunched over looking down at your screen. As I write up this podcast message, I’m in a cafe and looking around, everyone near me is hunched over staring down at their phone. Two kids are at least talking to each other as they share the screen, but they’re still zoomed in, laser focused on the screen in front of them.
Here are the downfalls:
- You can’t be open to conversing with anyone
- You don’t look interested in being here. First impressions matter.
- You won’t be immediately receptive to greet the hiring manager when she walks into the room. You’ll have to shut off your phone and disengage, but it away before you are ready to shake hands.
- Your mind isn’t clear and focused on the interview before you. Even if you are nervous take the time to focus on the interview. Think over your conversation points and areas of strength. Don’t get caught up reading emails, scrolling your feed, or getting lost in an episode.
Here’s the second tip that only works if you have kept your phone from distracting you. Make casual conversation with the person who greeted you when you entered the building.
If they are in front of you (often times they are) be genuinely kind to them. Here are some sample questions you can ask:
“How long have you worked here?”
“What’s your favorite thing about working here?”
“I’m not familiar with this area, are there some great restaurants around for lunch?”
“Do team members like to get together for lunch breaks?” (this one shows that you like to engage with others)
Getting the idea? You want to be authentic and personable without getting into what you are there for. You’re not giving away your insights for the interview, rather you’re collecting info about the environment and culture of the office. This will be helpful to you in making your decision (always talk to as many people as you can at a company). And it is helpful to you because that person will weigh in on the manager’s decision to hire you.
Lastly, in case you can’t guess, if this person has a negative experience with you, as in you’re rude or unresponsive, you can be immediately counted out for this job. That first impression matters that much.
If you are offered a refreshment, kindly accept with your best manners.
I used to decline any refreshments thinking I was sending a better impression by not having someone fetch me a drink. But then I took a training that said the action of accepting an extended offer – like, “Would you like something to drink?” – is the better action because it sets the stage for you being some agreeable. They make you an offer, you accept. Keep it super simple and go for the water. Most likely they have bottled waters on hand for this exact situation, so it’s often no trouble.
Lastly, male or female, nervous or not, discreetly wipe you hands to remove any moisture – aka sweat – before you greet the hiring manager.
I am not a person who sweats much even when working out and I don’t typically get nervous over an interview, but nonetheless I still wipe my hands before shaking someone else’s. Because sadly, I’ve had too many experiences shaking other people’s sweaty hands. It’s gross and no one likes it. So make sure it’s not going to be you. If you are someone who sweats a good deal, come prepared so you don’t wipe your sweaty hands on your nice clothes where it is noticeable. Wipe on a discreet handkerchief.
Best wishes for your next interview! ~ Stefanie