Your Big Entrance: The initial impact of your outer brand during the interview process

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Your outer brand is all about how you present yourself to the world. In the first of this three-part post, our vocal and communications coach Susan Heaton Wright shares some tips on how to express your brand for maximum impact during the interview process.

Recently I met up with an ex-assistant of mine, who was preparing to start a new exciting career. He was in the process of second interviews and was excited albeit apprehensive of meeting a number of possible team members and support staff.  I reminded him that not only were they seriously considering him, but that he was on parade to the entire company. Everyone, from the receptionist to the MD would offer an opinion on him, and therefore he had to be ‘switched on’ from when he arrived in the car park.

Does this sound rather theatrical? Well no! An interview is a performance, and it starts from when you first communicate with the organisation. Great men have fallen at the last hurdle of recruitment, by being rude to the car park attendant or by being monosyllabic on the telephone to the MD’s PA. First impressions are made from every interaction, and being aware of this puts you at an advantage with other candidates, that could slip up at any time.

The interview process has a ‘theatrical’ element into it. When watching a play, a character is ‘set up’ from when the actor enters ‘Stage Right’ without even saying anything. Their body language and speed of movement conveys information that we interpret. Likewise, in a recruitment situation, arriving in a confident manner, rather than rushing in late apologising; puts you and your potential employers at ease. You want to eliminate any niggling doubts ANY of the company might have that could jeopardise you winning a job offer.

So what are the magic ingredients, and actions, that enable you to perform “for success”? Here are my top tips for making the best initial impression before the interview even begins.

  • The initial interactions with pre-interview staff are essential. Even Head Hunters/Recruitment Agencies, who are working on your behalf, could be put off by your telephone manner, lack of communication or presentation face to face. Being human, they might prefer to recommend another candidate in preference to you.
  • The interview doesn’t start when you enter the interview room, but as soon as you respond to any communication: telephone, letter, email, from the company. Make sure you respond, and are courteous, clear and respectful.
  • On the day, the interview starts as soon as you arrive at the venue where the interview is taking place. Make sure you are punctual; polite and friendly to ANY individual working there – from the gentlemen in the Security office, to the receptionist. If you are not, I guarantee this will be fed back to the decision makers. First impressions will be made based on your manner and mood.
  • Entering the interview room is an art in itself. A candidate scuttling into the room, shoulders up and having no eye contact is going to have to work very hard to gain the interviewers’ confidence in him or her. Whilst a candidate who walks into the room with a friendly, open manner, eye contact and a firm (not knuckle breaking) hand shake gives many positive non-verbal messages to the interviewers.

© Susan Heaton Wright 2012

In our next post, Susan will share the importance of physical presence during the interview process.

Susan Heaton Wright helps successful individuals to make an impact with their voices and physical presence. Using her experience and expertise as a high quality performer and vocal expert, she has devised a range of techniques and exercises within training programmes to coach her clients to successfully communicate. She can be found at

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