5 Tips For a Great First Impression at Your Next Job Interview

Make a good first impression with our top five tips.

Need to impress at your next job interview? Making a good first impression can help or sour someone else’s idea of you. Today we break down all the small things that don’t go on your resume that will help you get the job!

(But if you need them, we do also have tips for different types of resumes.)

Dress to Impress

That first impression often has to do with what you’re wearing and how you present yourself. Does your interview outfit match the occasion? The hiring manager will expect you to wear a different outfit if the interview is at a factory versus at an office. Do your best to find out what kind of environment you’ll be in. Erring on the conservative side is always better than dressing too wild. The essential thing is that you dress for the workplace you want to hire you.

We dive into this topic in more detail, specifically about what basics to wear to a job interview, what really is “business casual” and what people are wearing in the tech world.

Show Up Slightly Early 

A good first impression isn’t just about appearance. Being punctual to your interview should be a given, but it’s worth mentioning: show up on time. If you’re running late, call as soon as possible to let your interviewers know. They will appreciate that much more than an excuse later on. In the age of cell phones, there’s no excuse for not calling ahead.

We don’t mean showing up extremely early. If you do, you risk making the situation awkward for everyone else. The best bet is to be fifteen minutes or less before an in-person job interview. Video interviews won’t allow you in earlier than the admin decides, so this is best kept to in-person interviews.

Control Your Body Language for the First Impression

Watch Your Body Language! We communicate more in a first impression than we know! This tip comes from two body language research studies (Mehrabian & Wiener, 1967 and Mehrabian & Ferris, 1967). It’s handy to remember the 55/38/7 formula of how you’re presenting yourself, which is 55% your body language, 38% verbal communication, and 7% is the words themselves. This means your body language is more important than the words you use, so don’t skip it!

Body language can show how you really feel, so it’s important to be aware of how you’re presenting yourself. Crossing your arms, smirking, and rolling your eyes can come across as offensive or impatient. Try to keep your arms loose and at your sides. When talking, speakers who move their arms and hands come across as more passionate, but keep them still when you’re listening.  Don’t forget to give a strong handshake and eye contact!

Body Language that Hiring Managers Hate:

Leaning backward:

This comes across as casual and laid-back, with a devil-may-care attitude. You appear comfortable with yourself and the environment, but not very interested in what the other person is saying

Touching your face:

You appear nervous and unsure of yourself. Remember: you’re there because you deserve to be there. This person likes you and your resume enough to have this interview with you. Keep your hands loose and in your lap.


Either moving around too much in the chair, playing with a pen, or bouncing your knee or anything that sounds similar comes across as nervousness. That includes but isn’t limited to playing with your hair/clothes/papers/etc., playing with objects on a table, picking your cuticles, etc. Some people have an internal need to fidget. They bounce their legs while sitting, lean while standing, and can’t hold themselves in place. If you feel the need to fidget, then intertwine your fingers and keep them on your lap or on a table. Your nervousness sends the message that you don’t think you should be there. Whether or not it’s true, it is the message you’re sending. So please, unless you’re talking, hold your hands still.


Body Language to Make a Good First Impression

Eye Contact:

Looking directly at someone can show confidence, but if it’s done for too long, it comes across as aggressive. Avoiding eye contact altogether shows nervousness and restlessness. If you need to project eye contact, but it makes you nervous: look at the person’s nose. They will think you’re looking at them in the eye because it’s so close, but you won’t have that nervousness of intense eye contact.

Leaning forward:

It’s not called “listening on the edge of my seat” for no reason! Someone leaning forward, watching the speaker intently, is getting every word they’re saying and is very interested. This is ideal when in an in-person job interview.

Head nodding:

Think of how cartoons portray characters who can’t speak: they nod their heads when they agree with something, shake them from side to side in a ‘no’ when they disagree, and tilt their head when confused. It works well in cartoons because that’s how people actually understand other people’s body language.  When the hiring manager is going on about something you agree with, nodding your head is encouraged. Tilting your head indicates confusion, but could mean interest if you want to hear more. To impress the hiring manager, nod when you actually agree but avoid tilting your head as much as possible.

Remember Your Manners

Whether it’s to the receptionist or the CEO, being polite to everyone while interviewing matters. Some companies specifically ask front desk staff to report back on their interaction with you, so make sure you’re polite to everyone.

This also includes matching the volume of your voice to the person who is speaking to you, so as not to appear either too timid with a soft voice or too aggressive by shouting.

To recap on how to make a great first impression, you need to be dressed appropriately, show up a little early for the interview, mind your body language, and mind your manners.  Remember, you’re there because they’re interested enough to talk with you. They already saw your resume and you have what it takes to do this job. Following these tips will have you impressing them from start to finish.

If you’re looking for job openings, we have them. We didn’t get our awards to impress you, but you should probably know that NESC Staffing has an A+ grade from the Better Business Bureau, was awarded by Forbes as America’s Best Recruiting and Temporary Staffing Firm, and has successfully put people to work since 1984. You can see our specialties at nesc.com.