The Greeting in a Job Interview

The greeting is your first opportunity to share with your prospective employer your individual interpersonal skills. Up until now, it is likely that all of your prior communication has been through electronic or physical means. Even if you did have the opportunity to speak with your prospective employer on the phone, this is most likely your first face-to-face meeting.

The greeting typically lasts no more than ten or twenty seconds, yet as with the “look” that you convey in the first ten seconds, there is a quite a lot that must be accomplished through your greeting. The objectives of the greeting are:

1. to let the interviewer know how pleased you are to meet them, and that there is nowhere else you would rather be; and,

2. to convey that you are polite, professional, and confident.

It is imperative that you let the interviewer know how pleased you are to meet him or her. After all, this is the person who has taken the time to review (and notice) your credentials package and has taken time out of their busy schedule to talk to you about a great career opportunity. This is the person who is going to let you solidify why you are the most appropriate candidate for the position. This person may even make you a great job offer. You better believe that you’re pleased to meet this person, and if there is anyone else you would rather be meeting with at this time, then you are most certainly in the wrong place.

Through verbal and nonverbal communication, you must let your interviewer know that there is no other company you would rather work for and nowhere else you would rather be.

Approaching the greeting in this way will naturally satisfy another objective: to let the interviewer know how polite, professional, and confident you are. It may seem like a lot to accomplish in a simple greeting, but if done appropriately, you can quickly and effectively build upon the positive impressions you have already made up to this point.

The interviewer is about to greet you. What do you think is going through his or her mind? If you have followed your plan closely, everything the person is thinking is extremely positive. Not only have you effectively differentiated yourself and left an excellent impression prior to today, but the interviewer has also gotten a good first look at you. Remember that through the initial look, you have left them with the impressions of Wow, Yes, and Whew! The interviewer has begun the motion of extending an arm to greet you, and there is a smile on his or her face. You have already met and most likely exceeded every expectation they may have had, and you haven’t even spoken a word.

What should you do if by chance the look that you conveyed just a few seconds ago was not exactly what you had hoped it to be? Sometimes unexpected things happen and maybe that first look your interviewer got from you wasn’t necessarily positive or what was expected. Don’t worry about it. The time has passed and you can’t get it back. The question is whether you should attempt to explain your less-than-perfect initial presentation or if you should just let it go. I would suggest that for the time being you let it go. You don’t want to jeopardize making a positive greeting and taking up your precious seconds with an explanation that may not change anything. Focus on your greeting and accomplishing the objectives you set out to achieve.

Direct eye contact has many positive effects. Doing so speaks of your ability to communicate effectively and shows that you are confident. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, so look directly at your interviewer and let them know how great you are.

It is your interviewer’s show, and he or she is in charge. Allow your interviewer the privilege of introducing him- or herself to you first.

A firm handshake can say a lot about a person. Your handshake conveys how you feel about yourself. A firm handshake tells the other person that you are strong, comfortable, and confident. It tells the interviewer that you have high self-esteem, that you are a winner, and that you are healthy. A firm handshake says that everything is great and positive.

The handshake concludes the formal greeting and introduction with the interviewer. Half of your first 60 seconds have passed, and you are continuing to impress. As you both turn to walk to an office or meeting room, there is only one thing that your interviewer is thinking: Polite, professional, and confident—and really good interpersonal skills. I like that. We’re going to have a good interview.