The First Five Minutes: The Most Vital Part of an Interview

Five minutes – that’s how long it takes for hiring managers to decide if you are the right candidate for the job when you are on your job search. They have been trained to take notice of subtle social interactions and signals, especially within the first few minutes of meeting you. Even if you have the most dazzling resume the company has ever seen, it is how you act in the very beginning of the interview that seals your fate.

So, what exactly goes through the mind of a hiring manager within the first five minutes of meeting?

  1. Before the interviewIt starts with how you communicate with the person bringing you to the hiring manager. Are you being friendly, or are you too full of yourself? Do you seem uncertain of why you are there? How are you carrying yourself?
  2. What you are wearingThe saying goes “Dress to impress”, and it is not for naught. How you dress is a presentation of yourself. Are you in a suitable outfit for the office, or are you dressed too informally? Is your office wear too flashy and loud, or is it tatty and in need of ironing?
  3. The first words you speakThey are the very first bit of your personality that you reveal to the hiring manager. Do you introduce yourself confidently? Are you polite, or plain rude like you deserve to be there? Do you thank the hiring manager for taking the time to meet you? Do you tell him something that shows you’re excited to be there? Above all, do you have bad breath?
  4. Your body languageBody language is the nonverbal counterpart in communication. Whether your handshake is firm or if you make eye contact is another clue to your actual intentions. Are you smiling, or do you seem uncomfortable in the hiring manager’s presence? How are you seated – is your posture upright like you’re confident and eager, or are you slouched in your seat like you are complacent and relaxed?
  5. Your mannerismsBeing the ideal candidate is not just about presentation and practised words. The hiring manager also looks to see if you are a potential colleague or just someone to share a joke with. Do you seem honest with your answers? Are you interesting enough for the hiring manager to want to know more about you? Are your answers stilted or is the interview conversational?

Don’t save your best for last – make the most out of the first five minutes of the interview. Draw the hiring manager back in with your character, because five minutes is really all you have to impress.

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