First things first, there are a few words and clichés which often cause people to tune out and may completely miss the message you are trying to convey in a formal interview situation. Let’s start by making you aware of some of those which are more common.

  • “Have a nice day.” This phrase is well-intentioned, but trite because of its overuse. ”Thank you for visiting with me today.  I really appreciate the opportunity.” are more authentic words for your departure. They show your insight into proper social etiquette.
  • “No problem.” The word “problem” is in itself a negative word. When you unpack “No problem,” what people are saying is “I can do what you’ve asked because it will not unduly burden me." It is better to simply say, “You’re welcome,” or, even better, “It is my pleasure.”  Both of these convey the appropriate politeness for the occasion.
  • “Like,” “so,” and “you know. These are the verbal ticks of our time. They will sink your first impression ship like a torpedo.

Next, you should understand that most resumes talk about WHAT you have accomplished.  You want to focus generally on relaying HOW you did those things and in some cases WHY you did them.  If you are successful in answering these overarching questions, then WHO you are will come out.  And remember, that is what counts most. This will separate you from the rest of the pack.

Thinking of the first interview like a first date will also serve you well.  Keep things polite and guard against getting too casual. You should be so well prepared that your answers will come second nature.  This allows you to have a dialogue which shows you are an authentic, “can-do” employee who will take personal responsibility and relentlessly pursue perfection. You will have them simply saying, “Wow!” 

Before the first question is asked, you can break the ice by saying,

“Thank you for seeing me today. I am very excited to be here. I don’t know what you had in mind for today and don’t know if you had a chance to look at my resume, but I am happy to begin by answering any questions you may have, or I can start out by telling you a little bit about myself.”

Almost no one will say “no” to this.  You are meeting this person specifically so they can find out more about you, and you just made their job easier with this opening offer. You also are showing a lot of confidence in a situation where the recruiter is used to seeing passive fish waiting for them to take control.  It is human nature to sit back and listen – but why not show  your old-school confidence show right from the beginning?!

 “I would rather hire a man with enthusiasm than a man who knows everything.”

--John Rockefeller