What does it take to make a good first impression in a job interview?

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Answered by: Joy, An Expert in the Interviews and Employment Category
Today's economy is tight, and the working person's market even tighter. How is a job candidate supposed to stand out from the crowd and make a good first impression with their ideal employer? Certainly, there are some tried and true tips for ensuring you are memorable during your application and interview process; here are just a few of those for applicants to consider.

1. Neatness Matters.

From the first stroke of the pen to the last dot of the freshly printed resume, putting your best foot forward is essential in every way. If the application is completed in your handwriting, write neatly; take your time, make it legible, and make yourself look professional. If finished on a computer, even printed copies should be tidy—no smudges, please! Use a neutral colored paper and let your experience and skills set you apart—not your messy application.

2. Spelling Counts.

There is nothing quite as distressing for an employer than to see an applicant shut the door in their own face because they didn't take the time to spell words correctly. If you think that proper spelling is pointless, you may be setting yourself up for instant disqualification. After all, there is a world of difference between someone who is experienced in 'herding sheep' and one who claims to be 'hurting sheep.'

3. Look the Part.

Like it or not, the way you dress when you go to an interview DOES make a difference in whether or not you impress. While it isn't typically necessary to wear your formal attire, something more sophisticated than jeans and a t-shirt is invariably the way to go. No holy knees or frayed hems; shirts that cover all the appropriate parts, hair that's clean, and teeth that are brushed (twice, in fact!). Yes, you want to be comfortable, but not so much that it looks like you just rolled off the couch before coming in.

4. Nothing in Your Mouth.

A lot of people are gum chewers when they are nervous, and there's nothing wrong with that—as long as the gum makes it into a trash can long before you arrive for your interview. There is nothing more distracting than trying to ignore the wad of gum rolling around someone's mouth while you're trying to decide if they will make a proper fit in your company. Don't give them an excuse to say no to you before they ever really hear about your qualifications. (And while we are on the subject: while it is bad form to chew gum, it is a cardinal sin to eat something during your interview time. Unless you are being considered for a taste-testing position, put the plate down long enough to make that good first impression.)

5. Smell of Success.

This point requires an element of delicate diplomacy—how can we put this?—make sure the only aroma drifting off you is one of confidence and intelligence! Before the interview time, be sure you do the following (in this order): Bathe. Apply deodorant. Ensure your clothing is clean and fresh smelling. And finally, use cologne or perfume (in a small dose...don't make it seem that you've wallowed in your Old Spice!). The goal of every interview is to let your job history, unique skill-set, and enthusiasm for the potential work ahead make a lasting impression, from start to finish.

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