There’s a lot that goes into a first impression.

Everything about a person–their physical appearance, the way they talk, their nonverbal mannerisms, and even their surroundings–can impact the way they are perceived. Our unconscious minds pick up a lot of detail from the people we meet. Even though these impressions take only seconds to form, they can last for months.

First impressions, especially when it comes to job interviews, come with a lot of pressure and, unfortunately when you are re-entering into the workforce, it seems even more difficult. You may have the right skills and qualifications on paper, but your outfit will tell your potential employer a lot about what kind of employee you will be.

If you’ve ever walked out of a job interview and wanted to crawl under a rock, you’re not alone. That said, you’re also not doomed to repeat the experience. Next time you have an interview coming up, keep in mind these important tips for how to make a good first impression.

Look the Part

In thinking about how to impress at a job interview, many people tend to focus on what they’ll wear. While professional, appropriate clothes are essential, they’re not the only aspect of your physical appearance to consider. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep beforehand so that you look alert and refreshed. If you wear makeup, perfume/cologne, or jewelry, go for a more understated look (or scent) on your interview day.

Don’t try and be to trendy if that is not your style. If you feel like your clothes don’t fit well or aren’t professional, it can make you feel slightly uncomfortable and potentially cause a lack in confidence.

As a Career Coach I generally tread lightly about my client’s appearance. I will offer my suggestions in the hope they will understand that I am coming from a place of experience not trying to be super critical.

A few professional tips:

  1. Wear more color. (Find your color pallet)
  2. Proper haircuts and color (seriously, spend the money if you can!!!)
  3. Trim your beard
  4. Shape your eyebrows (men don’t forget this one)
  5. Whiten your teeth

Be Yourself

People can sense insincerity, so whenever possible, it’s always better to be genuine and candid. In a job interview, this means finding a careful balance between being honest and letting your personality show while avoiding language or mannerisms that are too casual or trendy. This might also require a little practice, but the potential payoff will be worth it.

One Final Tip: Your Online Photo

As a rule, you want your online photos to look enough like yourself that people won’t panic and think they’re meeting with the wrong person when they first meet you.

That is a guideline with a lot of room in it! It doesn’t mean people need to update their photo every year or when their hair changes or every time they go up or down 10 pounds. It really just means be generally recognizable.

First impressions are important. You don’t have a second chance to make a great first impression, so it’s worth your while to try and get it right. Add those extra minutes of preparation (or sleep!) you need to make that first impression so it has the effect and end result you seek.

Remember you have the experience and desire to re-enter the workforce. Don’t let your appearance, your language or your nervousness get in the way.

Still concerned that you may not have what it takes to get back in the game? Schedule a complimentary 30-minute call to talk about your concerns. Let’s get you going in the right direction.