Like everything in life, the little things we do communicate big things about who we are. This could not be more true than in the job interview. Everything we say, every move we make is scrutinised and magnified in the mind of the interviewer, bringing us closer or further away from the precious job offer.

International studies have shown how important the first five minutes of an interview are in terms of a successful outcome for the candidate.

Whether we like it or not, we are probably going to be tagged with a pair of "horns" or a "halo" during this period, impacting the rest of the interview and how we are perceived by the recruiter.

Therefore what are some key things we can do early in the interview, to ensure we are on the right side of the decision later on?


Turn up on time (a little early)

While this may seem super-basic advice for readers of this column, I found a significant amount of executive level candidates I would interview couldn't even do this. We all know traffic is terrible and that finding parking can be horrendous, however being late says to the interviewer that your time is more important than theirs. It also smacks of issues regarding reliability and punctuality, both of which are inexcusable in senior level staff.

Fill in the form

A young tech manager I once interviewed was so annoyed that I wanted him to fill in our application form, I almost canned the interview there and then. Someone not prepared to complete this document says to me they are not open and transparent and may not take instruction well. Filling in the application form is the most basic thing I will ask you to do in the next hour, so smile, grit your teeth and get it done.

Smile and connect

Too often senior level executives remove all personality from their interview in the desperate need to impress. However being "hyper-professional" comes across as rude and distant on many occasions, and the interviewer will get the impression they are interviewing an automaton, not a flesh and blood human being. Don't be afraid to show your human side in the interview, smile and be engaging, as people want to work alongside people they actually like — not just respect ...

Be a good 'small talker'

Any interviewer worth their salt will engage you with small talk in the first few minutes to break the ice. This is a great opportunity to respond in kind, building a positive rapport to build from as the interview progresses.


Do the little things well in the first five minutes, and you'll set up the rest of the interview for success.

Contact Tom O'Neil and the team at CV.CO.NZ for a free CV or LinkedIn assessment or to be your personal career coach. Visit www.CV.CO.NZ or to find out more.