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Interview Toolkit

Seven tips for making an impressive first impression

Top Tips

By Ken Kneisel
DBM offers tips to help you get ahead at work. Kneisel is Senior Vice President for DBM.
  • More about DBM
  • The old saying that you never get a second chance to make a first impression holds true, especially in the case of job interviews. After all the preparation and hard work it took to land the interview, you'll want to go in with your best foot forward.

    Make sure you have your bases covered in these seven critical areas:

    Related resources
  • A seven-step interview checklist: Are you prepared?
  • Physical presence.

    Help the interviewer see you in the job by dressing appropriately for the culture of the organization and the position you're applying for. When in doubt, dress on the conservative side.

    During the interview, assume a posture that is neither too relaxed and sloppy, nor tense or forward. Do not chew gum.

    Movements and mannerisms.

    Use natural gestures. No matter how nervous you are, don't clench your fists. Avoid fidgeting, scratching or playing with a pen, your glasses or the change in your pocket. Steer clear of movements that invade the interviewer's personal space, and try not to appear stiff or awkward.

    Manner of speaking.

    To make sure the interviewer can hear you, pay attention to his or her reaction to your voice. Don't mumble or drop your voice to a whisper towards the end of your sentences. Avoid using a sing-song or monotone voice, as these tones will give the impression that you are over-rehearsed. Also, try to avoid slang and colloquialisms such as "you know."


    Convey the appropriate amount of enthusiasm, warmth and sincerity to suit the dynamics of your interviewer. Be positive, avoid negative topics and don't vent hostility. Remember to smile.

    Listening skills.

    Listen with full concentration and maintain eye contact 90% of the time — without staring. Indicate attention and agreement with nods and smiles, avoid interrupting and allow silence for thought and reflection.

    Communication skills.

    Mirror the style and pace of your interviewer. Give direct and credible answers but stop once you have answered the question. Don't over-elaborate with details or anecdotes, and try not to ramble or interrupt. If you don't know something, say so. Clarify a question if you don't understand it. Listen before you talk, and think before you speak.

    Interview hints.

    Collect business cards from the people you meet to get names and exact titles. Elicit company or departmental needs early in the interview using open-ended questions. Weave in your strengths and accomplishments in response to those needs. Respond to doubts or objections positively without being defensive.

    About Ken Kneisel and DBM

    Ken Kneisel is is Senior Vice President for DBM, a worldwide firm that provides strategic human resource solutions in employee selection, development, retention and transition. DBM works with organizations to help them manage the human resource challenges that go hand-in-hand with today's business cycles and volatile markets. Visit DBM.

    Copyright (2002) DBM, Inc. Printed by permission.