Getting judged based on your appearance, mannerisms, or body language occurs in a matter of seconds, especially when sitting down with a potential employer. Giving off a strong first impression is critical in job interviews as it often sets the tone for the conversation and the direction it will take. There is no ‘second chance.’ I am sure you’ve heard the popular principles of making a strong connection, such as dressing professionally, arriving on time, and researching the company. But today, I want to take a different approach to your frequently revealed career tips.

Earlier this year, our friends at CNBC Make It revealed nine of the most commonly made mistakes people make in their first impressions, as told by various millionaires across the country. We share a few of the critical examples below and how to make the necessary adjustments:

A Poor Handshake and No Eye Contact

Investor on “Shark Tank” and Founder of The Corcoran Group, Barbara Corcoran, lists maintaining strong eye contact as one of her four major rules to making a good impression (Review her other three rules here).

“I never hire anyone I don’t trust, and I always form my first impression of someone based on their eye contact. If you want someone to trust you, you better look them straight in the eye.” – Barbara Corcoran

Additionally, it is critical to offer a good handshake, which has less to do with being the strongest and more to do with being comfortable and confident. 

Being Dismissive

Always display positivity, kindness, and a willingness to help. Comedic star Jay Leno fondly recalls individuals early in his career who ‘showed him the ropes’ and were readily available with advice, but also remembers those who were quite the opposite. Jay shared a story where a bigtime celebrity was approached for an autograph. The lack of emotion and reaction from the celebrity arguably resulted in losing a fan and negative word-of-mouth along with it. 

Not Asking Good Questions

“To build rapport and credibility quickly, ask open-ended questions.” – Marla Beck, Co-Founder & CEO of bluemercury

For example, Marla recommends discussing how your interviewer got started in their career and what led them to where they are today. You can also ask about their goals and dreams for the future. Other questions to give off a positive, lasting impression include:

 -“Have I answered all of your questions sufficiently?”
 -“What is your ideal candidate, and how do I compare?”
 -“Do you need me to clarify or elaborate on anything from my resume?”
 -“What do the career paths look like for those who have previously held this position?” (My personal favorite)

For more clever, engaging, and thought-provoking questions to ask during your interview, check out this great article from our friends at Business Insider.

Appearing Disinterested

“It’s not enough to be interesting. You have to be interested.” If you do not appear invested in the conversation and curious to learn more about them and the position, your interviewer will not view you as a qualified candidate. Save some of your pitch for a second interview and take this time to focus on them, says Cardone Ventures for Women Co-Founder Natalie Workman. 

“And don’t forget to give them your business card — ideally with your picture on it — so they have a way to follow up with you. But remember: It’s ultimately your job to follow up with them.”

Failing To Display Your Strongest Assets

“I’m enthusiastic by nature, but I used to hold back because I wanted to seem ‘cool’ — until I realized my enthusiasm is actually one of my most valuable assets.” – Alon Rajic, CEO of Finofin

Please don’t hold back when it comes to showcasing your most outstanding qualities, skills, and job experience that sets you apart. Ensure the strengths you share are unique and specific to the job, rather than general statements such as being punctual or a ‘good communicator.’

“It’s so important to identify your strongest skills and showcase them proudly. If you’re an eloquent speaker, speak often. If you’re a great listener, ask lots of questions. But you also need to avoid overemphasizing them.” 

Final Thoughts

– Stay authentic.
– Don’t force words. Speak up only when you have something valuable or insightful to say.
– Remember the ‘give-and-take’ principle still begins with giving. 

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