- Why do first impressions matter for interviews?
- Before you meet the hiring manager
- What to do before the interview
- How to introduce yourself in an interview
- Top tips for introducing yourself
- How to successfully answer “tell me about yourself”
- How to follow up after your interview to maximize your chances of getting the job
If you're heading to a job interview, you may be feeling both nervous and excited. Even if you're ready to answer any interview questions, the thought of introducing yourself could be tying knots in your stomach.
What if you stumble? What if you ramble on about things that don’t matter? Everything seems simpler once you’ve finally introduced yourself in your interview, but you need to get past that hurdle first.
We know first impressions matter, and you'll want to get the introduction just right.
Here’s the great news. If you’re prepared, you can not only nail your introduction but also set a positive tone for the remainder of your time with your interviewer.
In this article, we'll tell you how to introduce yourself and make a good impression. And we’ll give you tips to get through the interview.
Why do first impressions matter for interviews?
In the US, 5.9 million people are looking for work. Getting to the interview stage means your resume or cover letter did something to stand out from dozens, if not hundreds, of other job seekers.
But you won’t be the only one interviewing for the position. There’s an average of 118 resumes for each job, and 20% of applicants get called in for an interview.
Unless there are multiple roles available, only one of these interviewees will get the job.
When you're meeting a potential employer for the first time, your self-introduction can help you create a good first impression.
And that first impression often starts to come together before you even walk into the interview room.
Managers know that judging a person’s true behavior from just one brief interview is hard.
It’s common for hiring managers to ask other people in the office to help them judge any potential new hires while they wait. Your assessment may start before your interview even begins.
Before you meet the hiring manager
The way you first show up to your job interview matters. Meeting the receptionist is a great opportunity to create a good first impression.
The hiring manager will often ask the receptionist for their thoughts on each candidate. People make up companies, and the way you interact with others says a lot about who you are.
The receptionist may witness different behavior before you’ve gotten into ‘professional interview mode.’ They'll take note of your communication skills, listening skills, and body language.
Make sure to smile when you arrive at the reception desk. Tell the receptionist your name and why you’re there, and remember to be polite and patient.
If you get the job, they could be a coworker, and they'll need to be able to work with you.
What to do before the interview
When you're prepared for your interview, you'll have a higher chance of success. From the first introduction to the final question, you can be ready before the day:
Here are eight interview tips to help you introduce yourself and nail your interview.
1. Research the company beforehand
There isn’t one universal way to introduce yourself in an interview and make a good first impression. That’s because not all companies have the same history, culture, and values.
For example, a casual restaurant with a youthful, relaxed culture will be happy with a friendly introduction. On the other hand, a professional law firm will prefer a formal, polite introduction.
To get it right, research the company before your interview. Try to find out what the company culture is like. What do they value from their employees? In what direction are they headed? What type of people are they looking for?
Next, take note of the company’s past accomplishments, and make sure you understand its history.
If you can’t find any information on their website or social media pages, you can search online for press releases.
2. Find out who will be interviewing you and research them, too
Getting to know your interviewer before the day is just as valuable as your original research on the company.
Perform an online search to find out their job history or if they’ve had any particular accomplishments in the past. For instance, maybe they’ve won an award, given a talk at an industry conference, or delivered workshops.
Understand their role in the business and find out their career path so that you can ask them valuable questions during the interview.
If their role is unclear to you, don’t hesitate to ask once the interview begins.
3. Prep an elevator pitch
You may need to introduce yourself to other staff members before your interview. If they ask you about yourself and your background, you’ll need something to say. Instead of leaving it up to chance or letting yourself improvise how you’ll introduce yourself, come up with your own elevator pitch.
An elevator pitch is a brief, clear statement that showcases your value and sums up who you are as a potential employee. It should be no longer than 20 to 30 seconds — the duration of your average elevator ride.
For example: “My name is Larry, and after two years working as a construction worker, I’m ready for a new challenge, and I’m keen to put my currently untapped problem-solving skills to use as a customer service rep. I’m excited to learn more about your product and help customers have the best possible experience.”
4. Practice your answers
Before you meet the recruiter, ask a friend or family member to give you a mock interview. These sample answers to common interview questions will help you practice.
A good answer focuses on the key points in the job description. Talk about your career goals and the steps you’ve already taken to achieve them, your experience, current role, and the skills you can bring to the company.
When you're rehearsing your job interview questions, don't forget to practice your introduction.
When you prepare and rehearse your pitch, you'll be ready to deliver it naturally and give a good first impression.
5. Find links between your interests and the position you’re interviewing for
The interviewer may want to know about your interests outside of work. You can prepare beforehand by listing your existing interests or hobbies and finding links between those interests and the position you’re applying for.
The employer doesn't need to know your life story, so make sure you keep it relevant.
For example, do you play an instrument? Concentration, dedication, and the ability to continually learn and improve are all great skills that you gain from playing an instrument that could be useful in a position that requires focus and constant adaptation.
If you're a software engineer, you can share hobbies that showcase your technical skills, such as coding and game development. Or you can talk about your sporting commitments to show you value teamwork.
5. Be well rested
Make sure you get enough rest the night before your interview.
If you live with other people, let them know this interview is important to you and that you need a good night’s sleep to prepare yourself.
When you get enough sleep, you’ll be in a better mood and avoid brain fog. When you’re feeling confident and focused, you’ll make a good first impression.
6. Dress appropriately for the occasion
When choosing what to wear to your interview, pick something clean and professional.
What you wear will influence your first impression.
Your first impression is critical because, like it or not, employers do make snap judgments based on your attire and presentation.
Choose dressy pants or a skirt, and avoid flashy colors. Make sure your clothes are clean and ironed before putting them on.
You can read our What to Wear to a Job Interview Guide for more tips.
7. Be on time
If you’re late to your job interview, it won’t matter how you introduce yourself. The manager wants to know you’re reliable, and poor time management skills can ruin your chances of getting the position.
It’s better to leave home early to give yourself enough time in case there’s a traffic delay. If you get to the interview more than fifteen minutes early, go for a walk or have a coffee. Having a few minutes to compose yourself before the interview can help you make a good first impression.
8. Have an introduction ready for the receptionist
Before you meet your interviewer, you may have to introduce yourself to a receptionist or someone other than the person who conducts your interview.
Prepare a quick introduction. Here’s an example:
“Hi, my name is Mike Stone, and I have an interview with Mary Jones at 1 p.m.”
Remember to smile, wait until you’re acknowledged, and be polite.
How to introduce yourself in an interview
Once you've met the receptionist, you'll usually need to wait for the hiring manager.
When the interviewer comes to greet you, stand up and offer a handshake while smiling. Remember to make eye contact as you greet them.
Depending on the workplace, a handshake may not always be appropriate. COVID-19 has changed the way we interact, and many people have said goodbye to the handshake. If you're uncomfortable or unsure, you can avoid it.
There may be more than one person in the interview room. Make sure you acknowledge them all individually.
These days, more job interviews are done online. If it's a virtual interview, you should be waiting when the hiring manager joins the meeting. Keep your camera switched on, and be ready with a friendly smile and a confident introduction.
If you've done your research, you'll be able to address the hiring manager by name and thank them for taking the time to meet with you.
Your interviewer will only have limited time, so keep your introduction brief.
And remember, a common job interview question is “tell me about yourself.” If they ask you this, you’ll have more time to share your strengths and abilities.
Top tips for introducing yourself
Here's a rundown of our top tips for introducing yourself in an interview.
Watch your body language. Make eye contact, and don’t cross your arms.
Don’t be overly familiar. This means no hugging or touching.
Address the hiring manager by name. Make sure you know how to pronounce it.
Be polite and friendly, but avoid making jokes.
Treat other staff members with respect. They may have a say in the hiring process.
Keep your introduction short and sweet. You'll have time to talk during the interview.
Introduce yourself before taking a seat.
How to successfully answer “tell me about yourself”
One of the first questions your interviewer will ask during the interview process will be “tell me about yourself.”
The question can come up in different ways. It can sound like “tell me something you didn’t mention on your resume” or “walk me through your resume”.
This open-ended question is your chance to set the tone for the rest of your interview and increase your chances of getting the job.
If you get nervous just thinking about this topic, don’t worry — you can also prepare your response in advance.
First, you should introduce yourself. Even if you’ve already done your elevator pitch, remind them of your value by briefly summing up your experience.
Here’s an example:
“I’m a customer service rep with three years of hands-on experience across all segments of the customer journey — from onboarding to helping customers resolve complex issues.”
Next, share your primary strengths that relate to the job you’re interviewing for. This can cover your work experience, how many years of experience you have, and why you're passionate about your job.
Dive into a little more detail than your first introduction.
For example, let’s follow up on the game designer's statement:
“I've spent the last three years deepening my customer relation skills for Company A, where I have been put in charge of escalating customer issues. I enjoy thinking outside the box and solving complex problems for customers.”
This statement shows some of your responsibilities and interests. But it doesn’t ramble on for too long.
Finally, conclude by explaining why you’re interested in this new job. Maybe you see this position as a way forward. Or your old position no longer challenges you, and you're looking for new opportunities to grow your skills.
You could say something like this:
“Although I love what I do at Company A, I feel I am now ready to move forward to a more challenging leadership position, and this opportunity really excites me.”
While you answer this question, watch your body language. Sit comfortably but confidently, and make plenty of eye contact with your interviewer.
You should also avoid the following:
Talking about irrelevant interests or details about your personal life
Being too modest
Rambling on for too long without focusing and getting to the point
Saying “I don’t know.”
Being negative about previous workplaces or coworkers
If you have relevant interests that you feel will add value to you as a candidate, feel free to mention them here, but keep it brief.
How to follow up after your interview to maximize your chances of getting the job
Not everyone who gets interviewed will get the job, but you can increase your chances.
Here are five tips to help you stand out even after your interview is over.
1. Be polite on your way out
How you exit matters, too. It'd be a shame to have a strong introduction and leave the interview on a sour note.
Thank the interviewer for their time before you leave the interview room. You should also acknowledge the receptionist and any other people you see on your way out.
2. Send a thank-you note
It doesn’t take much time to send a thank-you note, but it can help make you more memorable.
Remember that only one person will get the job offer, so you're likely competing against four to six other people for the same job.
And if you’re all equally qualified, it’s the small details that can make the difference.
In your thank-you note, mention that you can provide additional information or answer follow-up questions as needed.
You should send this note before the end of the day after your interview. Alternatively, you can send a brief thank-you email.
3. Don’t follow up too soon
You’re probably excited about the job, but don’t pester the company for updates.
If they said you'd hear from them in two weeks, don’t follow up before that time (except for your thank-you note).
If you haven’t heard anything, feel free to send a follow-up email after two weeks.
4. Contact your references
If you mentioned references in your interview, reach out to them to let them know they may hear from your prospective employer. This will help them prepare.
When they don’t know they’ll get called about you, they may not have notes ready to explain your value properly.
Remember to thank your references in advance for their time, too.
5. Connect on Jobcase or LinkedIn
Finally, you can connect with your interviewer on Jobcase or LinkedIn.
But avoid the temptation to message them unless you’re sending them your thank-you note.
Remember that they are busy, so showing that you value their time matters.
Become a master at introducing yourself in your interviews (and get the job!)
Now you have all the tools you need to introduce yourself in your interview in a way that helps you stand out from other applicants.
Before the interview, you can prepare yourself. Research the company, and find out who the interviewer is so you can address them by name.
Get your elevator pitch ready, and practice with a friend. Read the job description and try to match your answers. And be well-rested, on time, and dressed appropriately.
Remember to be polite and brief, present yourself in a way that showcases your value to the company, and follow up carefully.
Make sure you greet the receptionist because they may influence the hiring decision.
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