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Make a positive first impression during interviews

At ECS, we’re currently knee deep in on-campus interviews. I like to sit with my office door open…and one side effect to doing that is hearing the “small talk” conversation that happens when recruiters are taking students back to their interviewing rooms. Below are two very common scenarios where students hurt their chances of obtaining employment by missing the boat on professionalism through “simple” interactions.

  1. Don’t greet the recruiter with openings like, “Hey James” or “Hi Jess”. Let’s be clear: an interview is a professional setting…one that requires certain conventions. It’s likely you grew up calling your friend’s parents by their first names (instead of Mr. or Mrs. So-and-so)…maybe your parents even let you get away with calling them by their first names (that didn’t fly in my house). There’s a strong probability that the recruiters interviewing you are not your friend’s parents. Therefore, you need to address them as “Mr. or Ms. (insert last name here)”. After this initial greeting, if they ask you to call them “James” or “Jessica”, it’s fine to follow their lead, but always err on the side of being more formal than necessary. Additionally, reserve your use of “hey”, “what’s up”, and “how’s it goin’” for your friends.

  2. Don’t be a Debbie Downer. A typical start to an interview almost always involves the recruiter asking, “How’s your day?” Perhaps you’ve had a bad day. Maybe you’re just tired (staying up all night prepping for your interview I bet). In any instance, don’t respond with something negative. It sets a bad tone for the rest of interview and might lead them to think you are typically a negative person (not too much fun to work with someone like that). Keep in mind too that the recruiter has taken time away from their day-to-day work assignments to interview you. Perhaps they have also traveled a considerable distance and are spending time away from their family as well. Either way, you should try to answer in a pleasant—if not positive—manner…doing so will let them know that you are excited about this opportunity.



These seemingly meaningless interactions with employers can impact your chances for a job in a BIG way…so put your best foot forward…it can’t hurt!

“First impressions are a constant in society. Good ones are pleasant and long lasting, bad ones long and difficult to disprove.”
-Diego Velasquez



About the author

Rachel Kaschner

Rachel Kaschner is the Assistant Director at Engineering Career Services.