How To Make A Great First Impression ?

Dorothy Danahy is President and CEO of Dorothy Danahy SAS. Here she offers her advice on how to present yourself during an interview, and how to conquer those first interview nerves.

What characteristics do you most appreciate in a candidate?

DOROTHY: Their motivation. We need to feel that we’ve got someone who’s really very keen on being a PA. I need to see that they have a professional way of approaching their job, and that they enjoy doing it. We also like our candidates to be honest and straightforward with us. Interviews can span up to an hour or even more, just talking to the candidate – the idea is that when they come out of the interview, they feel comfortable that we can really help them, not just on that occasion, but whenever they are looking for a new challenge in the future. You should be talkative, curious, and not afraid of asking questions. We like candidates to keep contact with us – if they find a job on their own, it’s important that they let us know so we can put their file aside (we won’t however close the file unless you want us to – you can get back to us whenever you need us). We need them to trust us as much as we need to trust them, so that we can work well together.

How should you present yourself for interview?

DOROTHY: You should usually go for a sober dress code, and then after a first interview you could adapt your look to fit in with the other company employees. You should wear clothes you’re comfortable in, as long as they stay discreet. Your hair should be well groomed. Ladies shouldn’t wear an overpowering perfume, too much jewelry or too much make up. You should be smiley and keep eye contact with the interviewer at all times.

Do you have any advice for someone going into their first interview, who doesn’t have a great deal of experience?

DOROTHY: If we take a junior candidate, fresh out of university, for example – it’s important that if they are shy or nervous, they try not to show it too much. Greet the interviewer with a smile and a firm handshake and assure them that what you might lack in confidence you can more than make up for with your motivation. Enthusiasm will also rub off well on the interviewer – they will be impressed to see how interested you are in the opportunity. Thorough research can also help calm your nerves: going into an interview underprepared will only heighten your nervousness and put you on edge – make sure you know about the company, and who will be interviewing you. Keep being yourself, and don’t be afraid of telling the interviewer that you don’t know the answer to a question – it’s much better to be honest and tell them you’re willing to give it a try, than to simply claim you can do something you can’t. Try to stay calm and confident - you’ll be fine.