If you aren’t used to interviewing, it’s hard to make a good impression on a hiring manager, especially if you’re competing against candidates with more experience than you. Many hiring managers rely heavily on their instincts. If you don’t make a good impression right away, you could lose your chance at the job of your dreams. Here’s how to make a stellar impression in your next job interview.

The Interview

Before you walk into your interview, you need to have the mindset of a salesperson. Your goal is to sell yourself to the hiring manager and show them that you have the qualities they are looking for in an employee. Make sure you exude confidence and positive energy. During the interview, ask questions that show you have done your research and understand the company and its values and goals. Also, try to identify any objections or doubts the interviewer might have about you so you can address them right away. At the end of the interview, push for the next steps to indicate that you are seriously interested in the position.

Follow Up

After the interview is over, follow up with the hiring manager by sending them a handwritten thank you note. Within the note, continue trying to pitch yourself. In the first two to three sentences, greet them and thank them for taking the time to meet with you. Then explain why you are excited about the opportunity and what you have to offer the company. At the end of the note, ask any questions you might have and reiterate the next steps. In many ways, the thank you note should follow the same pattern as the interview.

Preparation Is Key

When it comes to first impressions, preparation is key. As you prepare for the interview, think about your story. Write down things on a piece of paper that speak to your professional journey so you can start to build a consistent message. Start communicating your message during the phone interview and carry that message over into the face-to-face interviews. If you have a story and a message, you can have a focused conversation with the interviewer. When the hiring manager talks, listen and think before replying. What message are they communicating? Try to address their message and tie it back to your story. Another important part of the preparation process is researching the background of the hiring manager. Know their skill sets ahead of time and think up questions that will be important to them based on the research you’ve performed.

Other Important Details

You also want to arrive to the interview early. Arriving on time is the same as arriving late. Show up late, and you have already been forgotten. Bring an extra shirt in case you spill something on the way to the interview. Print out several copies of your resume to pass out to anyone you meet while at the company. In addition, every time you meet a key person, ask for a business card, or jot down their name so you can send a follow-up email. If the interview is at a restaurant, order something light and simple. No matter the setting, always wear something professional. You want to be formal in how you dress and how you speak to people.

When you interview for a job, you need to make a stellar impression so you are more likely to get an offer. The key is to prepare sufficiently, sell yourself to the hiring manager, and follow up after the interview.

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