How to Make a Great First Impression at Your PA School Interview

Its human nature to quickly form first impressions, like judging a book by its cover or a restaurant by the pictures on its menu.   People often judge each other immediately upon meeting, so it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be judged as an applicant the moment you walk into the interview room.  To help maximize your first impression, you’ll want to have a game plan.

Knowing which actions and attributes to focus on can help you make a stellar first impression.  The following items comprise the Eight Stages of Approach, a foolproof way of ensuring that you make a memorable first impression on interview day.

Eight Stages of Approach

  1. Appearance
    You should dress in such a way that you evoke a sense of confidence and approachability.  You want to come across as professional but also be seen as a people person.  Consider wearing a pastel shirt or blouse or accessorize with something interesting but tasteful.  You’re not interviewing to work in a bank, so let your personality come through in your appearance!  Just remember- keep it professional.
  2. Attitude
    Just before your interview, give yourself an attitude adjustment.  You want to feel confident but also lighthearted, so make sure you do everything necessary to leave your stress at the door.  It can sometimes help to think of the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you right before you walk in the room. Whatever your go-to memory may be, try to think of a time when you felt a combination of confidence and relaxation and channel it!
  3. Mantra
    Just before you enter the interview room, repeat to yourself “yes, yes, yes!”  Whether you have to say it out loud or repeat it in your head, this mantra will make you feel more confident and can get you to smile.  If you enter the room with a positive mental state and a smile, your interviewers will likely pick up on this and respond accordingly.
  4. Eye Contact
    The moment you walk in the room, approach the nearest person to you.  Note the color of his or her eyes as you greet them- this ensures solid eye contact.  A lack of eye contact can evoke a sense of insecurity or insincerity, so establishing eye contact with each person in the room from the beginning is very important!

  5. Body Language
    As you approach a person you’re meeting, turn slightly to the left.  This subtle positioning subconsciously indicates an openness and trustworthiness because you’re essentially opening up your heart to them.  Make sure you stand up straight, walk with confidence, and keep a fluid and relaxed posture.  If you wore a jacket or blazer, unbutton it before you take a seat.  This will make you a bit more relaxed and can act as a gesture of openness and comfort.
  6. Keep Your Hands Visible
    It might sound strange, but you always want to keep your hands visible whenever possible.  This small consideration eliminates the subconscious fight or flight mechanism by showing you have nothing threatening in your hands.  This will also prevent you from exhibiting poor body language such as having your hands in your pockets, crossing your arms, or folding your hands.  Use open gestures, such as extending a full open hand when pointing rather than using a single finger.
  7. Be Proactive
    When you first step into the room, you should have an opening question or statement ready.  The subject should be something lighthearted, such as something you noticed on the tour of the school or something interesting or positive about the building or campus in general.  Starting off with a lighthearted remark establishes a sense of parity and highlights your confidence- just make sure to keep it short and sweet.
  8. Synchronize
    You should synchronize your body language and tone with the person to whom you are introduced or speaking.  This doesn’t mean you should directly mimic them!  You’re trying to communicate with each person in the room in a way that closely resembles their communication style.  Pay attention to tone of voice, body language, speaking cadence, and word choice- all of these may help determine your communication style.

Try practicing these steps before your interview with acquaintances or coworkers to get more comfortable applying them in real time.  If you keep these 8 stages in mind, you’re guaranteed to make a great first impression that will ease your stress and anxiety on interview day!