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How to Make a Great First Impression at a Job Interview

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As the saying goes: You never get a second chance to make a first impression – and this is never more true, or more essential to keep in mind, than when you are going for an important job interview. However, while many of us are aware of the importance of making a ‘good impression’, few people stop and think about exactly what a ‘good impression’ means – either to them, or to the person they are trying to impress!

If you are currently looking for work, don’t wait until the moment before you walk into that interview to think about this – take a few minutes now to work through these points with me to help define your own version of a ‘good impression’ and you’ll be amazed at how much more powerfully you present in your next interview situation.

There are two sides to this process; firstly figuring out what is expected of you by the other person, and secondly understanding what you want to project about yourself.

To begin with we need to get clear on what kind of person your interviewer is looking for. This sounds a bit tricky initially, but it is actually very simple. You know what position you are going for – and presumably you feel pretty confident that you are capable of filling that role in a competent and satisfactory manner. So all you need to do is put yourself in the position of the person who is looking to fill this position. If you were them, what are the qualities, attributes, skills and prerequisites you would be looking for in that person?

Make a list of everything you think of, and then run back through the list and place an asterisk next to the essential, or ‘deal breaker’ elements that person is going to be looking for. If you were them, what would you consider is absolutely essential to find in the person you are about to hire?

Next have a think about the personal qualities or ‘personal brand’ messages you want to get across. What do you want the interviewer to think about you? Make a list of all the things you want to impress upon them in the course of the interview. Again run down the list and asterisk the most important points.

Now take a highlighter and on both lists select the top 3 most important qualities, points or elements that you want the interviewer to remember about you. They are unlikely to remember any more than 6 things about each candidate (and probably less than that!) so it’s really important to focus on the core factors you want to impression on them.

You  now have a recipe for the ingredients of your personally tailored ‘good impression’. Before you go into your next interview, review those six highlighted points and be sure to etch them into your brain, so you can’t help but exude those qualities through the way you behave and respond to questions in the interview itself. Not only will this help you make a clear and consistent impact on the interviewer, you will also feel more confident, which will reinforce the positive effect of the impact you are making.

Let me know in the comments below if you have ever tried a technique like this before, and if you do, how it made a difference to your interview success!


Alison Rentoul is ex yacht crew with 15 years of yachting experience, and a professionally trained personal development coach working with crew worldwide, helping them realise their highest potential at every level. See for more information.

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