Positive Impressions Come Down to Preparation

November 13th, 2012
Karen Stafford says start and finish strong

Whether on paper or in person, you’re judged within the first seconds of an introduction. Every new encounter brings another evaluation and an instant – and often permanent – impression.

So how can you make sure someone judges you accurately?

Well, in the case of cover letters or interviews, Karen Stafford, Mountain States Employers Council’s Arizona vice president of membership development, says positive impressions happen when you do your homework.

“Candidates who make life easy for the people they interact with are catapulted above others,” she stressed, adding that people reviewing cover letters and resumes aren’t always aware of an open job’s requirements.

For this reason, she encourages quick communication about the connection between what you offer and what the job requires. Then, once in an interview, demonstrate knowledge about the company, including the latest news and activities on social media.

“This may seems really obvious, but it’s amazing how many people show up and don’t really know about the company, that a news item just broke or that they just won an award,” Stafford said. “Nothing says you ‘have your ducks in a row’ like being knowledgeable about a company.”

Anticipating questions during interviews and other meetings is also part of preparing for positive impressions. For example, Stafford says to expect interview questions about interacting with teams and dealing with behavior-based situations, such as handling a difficult customer or missing a deadline.

Of course, questions don’t always have to come from others. Stafford also recommends having your own inquires during meeting situations. Here’s one of her favorites:

Is there anything we talked about today (with my application for the position) that concerns you or that you would like to talk further about?

“This question gives you the chance to write the end of the story,” she said. “If you don’t ask this question, you don’t know. You walk out and they’ll finish the story for you.”

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This story, written by Tom Trush, is part of the Chamber's monthly Valley Young Professionals email newsletter. To sign up for any or all of the Chamber's email communications, click here.

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