10 ways to create a good impression before and during the interview process

You have probably read many blogs on how to create a good impression during an interview and how to prepare for it: you know you need to be there with 15 minutes spare time, know what you want to get out of the interview and look smart. You are ready to impress.

But what about the period before applying or during the interview process? How do you create a good impression? And what do you do if you have changed your mind and you no longer wish to continue with the interview process or take up the job? How do you say no without damaging your image?

How others perceive you can have an influence on your reputation, and although your actions might not seem relevant now, they could have an impact in the future.

Tips to create a good impression

  1. Research before applying – Most job boards have an option to “Quick Apply”; it is an easy way to apply for a job by sending your previously uploaded CV with one click. Although it seems an efficient technique to use, it can also be counter-productive: it makes it easier to apply without researching the role and you could be sending an outdated version of your CV. Job boards sometimes send an auto-generated profile using details from your account – which you might have completed in a rush many months ago, missing off the key information you want to convey.

    Whether you use Quick Apply or you upload your CV, the general rule is to ensure you read the job description and you do some research on the company you are applying to. It will help you decide whether you are genuinely interested in the job but also, you will learn useful information to talk about during a first telephone interview. Employers are looking for people who want to work with them, therefore, the more knowledgeable about the company you are, and the more interest you show, the better impression they will have of you.

  2. Use your own CV format – This is actually a top tip provided by Whitehall recruiters. Whilst the job site’s format might look tempting to use, your chances of standing out from the crowd will be reduced. Your CV could also be exposed to any possible job site’s glitches, meaning information could be missed or delivered in a different order to what you expect it to be.

    By sending your CV in your own format you will be able to show a bit more of your personality, how you present yourself, and even skills like attention to detail or creativity. Most employers would be drawn to a CV that stands out. If you do not have an eye for design, an easy option is to purchase or download a ready-made layout. Here are some free templates you can use or purchase.

  3. Return the phone calls – The world of recruitment is very fast-paced and it can get very busy. When a recruiter or employer is taking the time to call you, it is because they are interested in talking to you, whether it is for the first time or at the interview or contracting stages. By returning their calls, you are demonstrating you are professional, that you are good at time management and you know how to do business. It is never too soon to return a call, the recruiter was already hoping to speak to you when they left you a voicemail.

    If you are not currently interested in speaking with them or you are unsure you would like to, you can send them a quick e-mail to find out what the call was about. If you are not interested after all, you can let them know. They will update your profile in their database, which is better than being completely deleted off their system. You never know what they could have lined up for you in the future.

  4. E-mail back – The times when you had to wait a few days so you did not seem “too desperate” are gone. In a candidate-driven market and due to the speed of technology, a prompt reply is much more appreciated: it helps employers organise their workload and plan their next move, especially when you have been requested to provide documentation. By replying in timely manner - within 24 hours at the most - you are showing you are interested and that you can manage e-mail correspondence. If you do not have internet access, make sure you call them to find alternative ways to keep in communication.

  5. Keep a good relationship (even if you don’t want the job) - If approached directly by an employer or a recruitment agency about a job you are not interested in, let them know what type of role you are after as they could have other available roles. Recruitment agencies usually have various departments managing different industries, meaning if the recruiter does not have a job for you now, they could put you in touch with a colleague who does. By keeping a good relationship with employers and recruiters, you are increasing your chances of being remembered when a job that could suit you lands on their desk.

  6. Check your social media – You might have had the best weekend partying in Ibiza or you might find some YouTube video hilarious, but before posting on your social media, remember the content could be viewed by hundreds or thousands of people, including potential employers. People who do not know you, could be put off by any content considered offensive or excessive. You could also consider changing the settings to “private” on your social media account.

    LinkedIn is one of the most popular platforms to attract employers and new businesses. Ensure your LinkedIn profile is spotless and organised: complete all the information, describe your previous job roles and keep a positive image by removing any negative posts or comments about work life or bad bosses, politics, religion, or those that make fun of any groups of people – nationality or otherwise.

  7. Ask questions – Whether you would like to know more about the role, about the interview format or if you simply need directions, don’t be afraid to ask. You might want to ensure you have read all the information and documents you have been sent beforehand, to make sure you are not asking something that is already there. Employers appreciate having two way conversations as they would like to get to know you as much as you would like to get to know them. You will be more prepared once you have the answers you need and it is important that you know what you are signing up to.

  8. Don’t be afraid to call – Making a phone call can save you time, help avoid long e-mail chains and clarify information effectively. Don’t be afraid to call to discuss or ask questions. Phone calls only show you are interested and that you care.

  9. Cancel with plenty of notice – Have you changed your mind about the interview? Making sure you call or e-mail to give notice is important. By informing the interviewers at least the afternoon before your appointment, you are giving them the opportunity to re-plan their day and you will have the opportunity to explain your reasons for your cancellation. Be honest, companies understand people have different motivations and needs and the importance of the candidate being sure before committing to a new job. You might feel you are closing a door, but you never know, if you have created a good impression, you might be opening a new door: they might have a different role for you in the future or they might even recommend you to someone else. You never know when you’ll meet this person again down the line.

  10. Unforeseen circumstances – It happens, there are situations you cannot avoid and that could get in your way no matter how prepared you were to get to the interview or get to your first day at work. Get in touch with the interviewer as soon as you can and discuss whether there is a possibility to change the appointment. Interviewers are people and understand there can be unforeseen situations. Needless to say, make sure you are on time for the second appointment!

Employers and recruiters remember people who have created a good impression. If they have called you, it is because they are already interested in you and what you have to offer. By keeping a professional attitude and maintaining the standards that made them like you in the first place, you will be making sure you are always in their good books.