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by Kayla Heisler via Fairygodboss | March 11, 2019


women networking

If you’re on the interview circuit, you likely know that you need to research the company you're interviewing with, bring multiple copies of your resume, and arrive early (but not too early) to your interview. But what you might not know is that there are several concrete things you can do early on in your interview to get off to a great start. Here are four ways to impress an interviewer in the first five minutes of your interview.

1. Be inquisitive.

At the end of most interviews, the interviewer asks the applicant if they have any questions. But you don’t have to wait for that last moment to voice your opinions or show off your inquisitive mind. Instead, arrive with prepared questions at your disposal. Asking specific things that demonstrate your attention to detail and confidence shows that you’re interested, have spent time thinking about the company, and are excited to learn more. In addition, listen to your interviewer and note if you have any questions in the moment, and then find a good moment to pose your question. Being inquisitive in this way shows off your listening skills, you're interested in the position, and you don't only ask canned questions.

2. Make eye contact.

Before you open your mouth, the way you hold yourself says a lot about you. If you have to wait when you arrive, be mindful of your body language while you sit. Try not to convey nervous ticks, postures that can make you seem standoffish such as folding your arms, or staring ahead. When potential coworkers walk by, don’t be afraid to exchange a friendly nod. Most importantly, eye contact is key. People who shift their gaze back and forth can come across as being unfriendly or dishonest, while those who stare at the floor or away from the person speaking can appear unconfident. So try to immediately make contact with your interviewer when you meet them, and then hold that contact.

3. Mention something you have in common.

If you’ve done your homework on who your interview will be with, you’ve likely picked up some tidbits about them. Use this information to your advantage. If you know that the two of you interned at the same company, attended the same college, or volunteered at the same organization, work it into the conversation. People tend to more easily trust others when they have something in common, so calling attention to any similarity can start the interview off on a high note. Of course, don't just blurt it out. Make sure you slip your similiarity into the conversation naturally. It's better to wait for the right moment and mention it later in your interview than to bring it up early out of context.

4. Build rapport with small talk.

While it may be tempting to demonstrate your professionalism right from the jump, lean into moments of casual conversation. Allowing yourself to be seen as a person as opposed to only an applicant. This allows the interviewer to think of you in a better light, and allows you to build a connection that isn’t often established by straight business talk alone.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.