Make the first 10 minutes count


By Tom Musbach

Alternate TextGoing on a job interview is like going on a date – you’ve got to make a great first impression. And all it takes is 10 minutes.

Many executives said that they form an opinion about hiring a candidate within 10 minutes, despite spending nearly an hour in the actual interview, according to a recent poll by Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

“The job seeker needs to remember that he or she is being assessed from the minute after walking in the door of the company,” says career coach Julie Jansen. “The receptionist could make an impromptu comment later to the interviewer about something the candidate did or said.”

Try these six tips to help make the most of those first 10 minutes.


* Ask someone close to you to assess your body language, appearance and overall demeanor as it relates to an interview, says Jansen. “Maybe you don’t realize that you twirl your hair on your finger when you’re nervous or that you lick your lips or forget to smile.”


* Dress the way the boss or interviewer would dress. “Any dressier makes you look like you’re trying too hard and/or are out-of-sync with that workplace’s culture,” says Jansen. To find out what the boss wears, simply ask the person who contacted you to schedule your interview.


* Do your homework!  Know about the company, and its products and services.  Read the job description very carefully and know specifically what you have to offer.


* Convey enthusiasm right away. Offer a solid, firm handshake and never tell the interviewer you feel nervous.


* Ask a wise question early in the interview. For example, “In the end, what is most important in doing this job well?”  That shows your intelligence and self-confidence in being willing to ask questions early.


* Stick to basic etiquette rules.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because the interviewer is informal, that you can follow suit.  Remember that they’re in their own environment and you are a guest.

Tom Musbach is senior editor of Yahoo! Small Business Advisor ( and author of The Career Beat blog ( You can follow him on Twitter at @tommusbach.



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