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Make the Most of an Interview's First 10 Minutes

Make the Most of an Interview's First 10 Minutes

By Caroline M.L. Potter

You have only one chance to make a good first impression -- and only a few minutes to do just that in a job interview.

According to a Robert Half International (RHI) survey of 150 senior executives at the nation's 1,000 largest companies, hiring managers form either a positive or negative opinion of job candidates within just 10 minutes. "Your behavior may be under scrutiny from the moment you arrive for the interview," says Brandi Britton, senior regional vice president with RHI. 

Use these 10 tips from Britton and other career and job-search gurus to make sure you wow them from the minute you walk in the room. 

"A firm, nonsweaty handshake, eye contact and a nice smile make you seem likeable. Likeable people are hired most often."

-- David Lewis, an executive with Express Employment Professionals and an expert on career development

"Prepare to engage in small talk, which helps to break the ice and puts both parties at ease and also demonstrates your ability to make conversation with potential clients, coworkers and executives."

-- Brandi Britton, Robert Half International

"Be prepared with everything you can possibly know about the company and the person who is doing the interview."

-- Executive coach Beth Ross

"Don't take the head of a table or sit down until you are invited to do so to demonstrate how you'll behave in professional situations."

-- Patty DeDominic, cofounder of DeDominic & Associates, a professional coaching and business services firm

"Open with penetrating questions that prove beyond a doubt that you've done your homework on the company, the position, the department, the industry and/or the competition."

-- Ford Myers, author of Get the Job You Want Even When No One's Hiring

 "Practice your answers to commonly asked interview questions so that you come across as a well-prepared candidate."

-- Certified executive career coach Cheryl Palmer,

"If asked to talk about yourself, always answer from a professional sense. Telling people about your family and what you do on the weekends is definitely the wrong approach. You want to solely focus on the areas of your work in which you are most effective and productive."

-- Careers and resume expert Lauren Milligan,

"Become an object of interest by the questions you ask. Leave them wanting more with the quality of content you add to the conversation (versus noise)."

-- David Nour, consultant and author of Relationship Economics

"Mirror the body language of the interviewer. If they are leaning forward, you should be doing the same. This builds rapport on a subconscious level, giving the feeling of a deeper connection."

-- Job market expert Jabez LaBret,

"Your interview strategy must include proof that you have successfully completed job-relevant tasks. A good strategy is to marry a strength and a specific example to prove that you are accomplished at what you do. Quantify accomplishments using numbers, percentages and dollars whenever possible."

-- Barbara Safani, president,

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