Whether you’re applying for a new job or aiming for a new challenge at work, making a positive and lasting impression is key.
It can help you stand out, and display your personality and attitude – which can be important when employers value soft skills so highly.
So what does it actually mean to make a positive impression to employers?
Here are five ways you can make a lasting impression when it matters most.
1. Express confidence
They say confidence is key, and this is especially true when it comes to making a lasting impression. When you show outwardly that you’re confident in yourself and your abilities, it makes it easier for others to place the same level of confidence in you.
Confidence doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But it’s a skill that absolutely anyone can build and continue to practice.
When coaching her clients about their careers, Christina Storey, Founder and Director of Her Career Coach, encourages them to start with believing in themselves.
“Generally speaking, I believe confidence comes from within,” she says. “It’s all about believing in yourself and your capabilities first and foremost.”
This internal work then leads to outward results, Storey says, as you start to be able to express your confidence from a secure place.
“Once you believe in yourself, that’s when you actually can be genuine about your own capabilities, and that’ll come out as you being competent,” she says.
2. Show curiosity
There’s a major difference between applying for a job just because you can do it and doing so because you want to do it. Showing that you have a genuine interest and curiosity for an organisation or role helps you stand out. At the end of the day, employers are looking for workers who’ll be motivated and enthusiastic about their work.
One sure way to show curiosity is of course by asking questions – there’s a reason it’s common practice to leave space for any questions at the end of an interview. But Storey says that it’s important to avoid asking only ‘stock standard’ questions for the sake of it. Instead, carefully consider what you genuinely want to know and ask about that.
“Try not to ask just the typical, ‘What do you enjoy about working here?’ type questions, but instead change it up a little bit and attempt to really understand your interviewers’ interests,” she says.
“It all comes down to preparation. If you can show that you are genuinely interested by asking genuine questions, the interview panel will be able to see that you’re curious about the role and learning more.”
3. Demonstrate your passion
More and more employers are seeking passionate workers. That’s because they know that people who are passionate about what they do are usually more productive and contribute to a positive working environment.
Communicating your passion in an interview setting can seem difficult, especially when you’ve got limited time. But Storey says that you can show it right from the start.“The first question that’s usually asked in an interview is ‘tell me about yourself’,” she explains. “This question is really your elevator pitch. It’s where you can show your passion about the role that you're applying for.
“Take this opportunity to share a little bit more about who you are, what you do, how you do it, and why, and why you are interested in the role. That's where your passion will come out.”
It’s important not to fake it, though. As Storey explains, when you’re truly passionate it will quickly be clear.
“If you genuinely express yourself, the interviewers will see this in your expressions and body language. But if someone's not genuinely interested about the role, it will come out in the person's energy when they're speaking, and also in their facial features.”
4. Show that you’re proactive
Being proactive means you can be self-reliant, get things done, and think outside the square – all great qualities employers look for. So, when you get the chance in an interview to show how proactive you are, be sure to take it.
One way to do this is, fittingly, by being proactive in your interview preparation. Come up with clear examples of times you’ve showed initiative in your work. Whether you’re asked directly for examples or not, having some ready will ensure you’re well-equipped for the interview.
“Most interviewers are looking for people who’ve done their homework,” Storey explains.
5. Communicate clearly
Being a good communicator doesn’t necessarily mean you need extensive vocabulary. Instead, what will help you make a lasting impression is communicating in a way that’s genuine, clear, and considered.
Storey says that many people are nervous during interviews, which can make it much harder to get their message across how they’d like. To handle this, she says it’s important to take your time, and focus on being true to yourself when answering questions.
“To calm your nerves, have a sip of water, because that will help you regulate your emotions and to settle yourself,” she says. “It’s amazing how that two or three seconds can calm the nerves. Once calm, you'll start articulating your responses more clearly.”
Showing your passion and curiosity for a role, expressing your confidence, proactivity, and communication skills will all help you make a great and lasting impression. And, aside from standing out in interviews, these qualities can help you take on opportunities in your working life as a whole.