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Job interviews: It’s all about first impressions

Posted by Reem Boudraa April 2, 2013 7 Comments

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A recent poll entitled ‘Influence of Personal Appearance on Hiring Decisions’ (March 2013) revealed that 76.4% of people in MENA believe that an employer’s decision to hire is highly influenced by a candidate’s physical appearance. The same poll also found that good grooming shows good character and the candidate’s interest in the position.

Because most often than not there’s no second chance to make a first impression, sometimes it takes no more than 30 seconds for a person to form an opinion of you. First impressions are vital to the success of your job interview. When you’ve only got a short time to sell yourself, you need to effectively communicate your professionalism both verbally and nonverbally.

To make sure you don’t end your job interview before it has really begun, here are some do’s and don’ts from to help you make a good first impression at a job interview:

The Do’s

Do arrive on time, alone, and with a professional smile and firm handshake that indicates you are happy to be there. Generally, the image you want is one that is professional and positive.

Do dress conservatively and sensibly in clothes that are not too tight or revealing (we recommend a business suit for the first interview). Too many accessories or jewelry, revealing attire, attire that is too casual or unclean, sloppy careless attire, and excessive or inappropriate make-up will all send out the wrong message.

Do watch your body language by sitting upright in your chair, maintaining comfortable eye contact, smiling and nodding politely.

Do show enthusiasm. Your attitude can make or break the interview. Employers are looking for energetic professionals. Looking bored or tired or displaying a lack of interest during the interview will work against you.’s ‘Hiring Practices in the MENA Region’ poll (February 2012) shows that recruiters in the MENA region look for hunger, drive and ambition as the most important thing when making a hiring decision.

Be courteous. Listen to the interviewer attentively, smile politely and do not interrupt. Tailor your answers to the precise questions to show you are in fact listening and understanding all that is being said. Answer questions attentively, respectfully and in a manner that engages the employer and demonstrates your interest in the company and the job.

Be honest. Exaggerations and outright lies at the interview stage are more often than not glaringly obvious. Dishonesty and clear exaggerations are among the most common mistakes jobseekers make during an interview, as affirmed by employers in’s ‘Hiring Practices in the MENA Region’ poll.

Leave happy and make sure your goodbye handshake is just as confident as it was while you were going in.

The Don’ts

Don’t wear strong perfume. You don’t want to cause any respiratory allergies to the interviewer.

Don’t chew gum, smoke, eat or drink at the interview, as this might suggest disrespect.

Don’t act distracted. Look the interviewer straight in the eye and give them your full and undivided attention.

Don’t let your body language send the wrong messages:

– Avoid crossing your arms or legs in front of you, slouching in the chair, leaning too far back, talking to the floor, or flirting.
– Avoid over-confidence, superiority, bragging, or excessive familiarity.
– Avoid making negative comments about previous employers, bosses or peers.

Don’t bring up your personal life or comment on politics, religion or any other controversial topics that may be off the track.

Don’t stray from the interview questions and keep your answers factual, honest and professional.

Making the right impression during a job interview isn’t hard if you keep in mind three basic rules: First, personal appearance does count. Second, your body language says a lot about you so make sure you don’t send the wrong cues. Finally, dress as you want to be seen: a person who takes their job seriously and is professional.

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About Reem Boudraa

Reem Boudraa is the Senior Editor at

View all post by Reem Boudraa

  • disqus_ZUO7H1J53p

    Thanks, Reem 🙂

  • Isah Usman

    It’s really helpful, Thanks

  • Reem

    You’re welcome, Isah. I’m glad you found the tips included in this blog useful! 🙂

  • MohamedAli Mohamed Ahmed

    Thanks Reem, it is vey useful.

  • Muhammad Umer

    Dear Reem.
    It is really an informative material for the new expat entering in UAE. I am really glad that people like you sharing their experience with rest of the world.


    Muhammad Umer
    Specialized in Human Resource Management National Textile University Faisalabad,

  • Thanks, Muhammad! 🙂

  • Thank you, Mohammed Ali!

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