Interviews – Why the First Five Minutes Matter

It may sound like a cliché at this point, but we really can’t stress enough that first impressions matter – especially when they’re the first five minutes of your job interview.

Why? Well, why not ask yourself the same question? Do first impressions matter to you, or do you give every person you meet the benefit of the doubt? While we all like to try and see people in 3D, your interviewer simply won’t have the time to discover all of your hidden qualities.

You have to show them those qualities, and show them fast. So, how can you establish yourself in the first five minutes?

Arrive early. Dress well. Be courteous. Have answers.

Too simple? Let’s roll back a moment and talk about what these points really mean.

Arrive Early

The saying goes, ‘if you arrive on time, you’re already late’, and we’re firm believers in it. Don’t aim to arrive moments before your interview, always aim to be a respectable 10 minutes early but don’t go directly in. Take 5 mins to check your appearance and catch your breath before heading into the building. It shows your interviewer that you’re taking it seriously, and you’ll have a chance to read over notes, or generally acclimatise to your surroundings.

Time should be spent familiarising yourself with the route you’ll take from your home to the location of the interview. Take all public transport services into account, and make sure to leave in good time to allow for delays, should your bus break down, for instance.

It also wouldn’t be such a terrible idea to do a practice run beforehand.

Dress Well

This doesn’t mean you’ll be expected to walk into your interview with a glimmering Rolex watch or the latest in high-street fashion. In fact, that may not be at all appropriate.

What we mean by ‘dress well’ is – dress neatly.

Showing pride in your appearance will always score you points with your interviewer, and besides, nothing gives off a better first impression than a clean and neat appearance.

Be Courteous

This might seem obvious, but you really have no idea how many people lack self-awareness.

We’ve seen people strut into their interviews without offering a handshake, a ‘hello’, or any of the very basic gestures that characterizes civilized society. Don’t take it for granted. We’ve seen it all.

Make sure to smile, shake your interviewer’s hand, and introduce yourself in a polite and friendly manner. Again, this may seem obvious, but we really can’t tell you how powerful a smile and handshake is.

Have Answers

This is the most basic thing you have to bring to your interview, but it’s also very important and can be used to make a great first impression; answers.

The first five minutes might be small talk (be prepared for that, too), or they might launch straight into the important stuff. Regardless, you should answer them in a calm and friendly manner.

Know your CV inside and out, and make sure to talk about some of your most recent successes within the first five minutes of your interview.


We’ve got more award-winning advice to offer here at Celtic Careers, so why not get in touch with us today and let us help you skyrocket your career? See our Job Seeker section for more.