How much do first impressions count? Graduates launching their job search need to be asking themselves how they will manage the all-important entrance and introduction phase of graduate job interviews. The first twenty seconds are all that count, they say.

Basically, the 20 second rule (one expert says it’s 12!) may be an exaggeration. BUT … there is a frightening amount of research that suggests that interviewers make up their minds about you in less than half a minute. Even six seconds can do it

graduate job interviews

Yes, there are some scary pundits out there. “You will live or die in the first twenty seconds!”pronounces business expert Nick Hewer.

Less scary than downright terrifying is the fact that one experiment showed clued-up viewers making up their minds in TWO seconds.

Experiment after experiment has found that trained interviewers made the same judgement after a few seconds as they did after watching the full 20 minute video of an interview. It seems that much of the choosing is subconscious – later rationalized in accordance with conventional criteria.

Practicing for Graduate Job Interviews is essential

How should someone embarking on his / her first round of  graduate job interviews respond to this information? Obviously, by practising to get it right.  Rehearse.  Then, instead of getting panicked, analyze the “why” of this mystery and apply common sense.

People trust and perceive positively other people with whom they have what David G Jensen (career consultant of global fame) calls “Commonalities”.  Shared traits, attitudes or leisure pursuits in common that create instant rapport. So find out as much as you can about the company you want to join. What makes them proud?

If possible, talk to someone who works there. What’s the style?  See what people look like on the corporate website.  All a bit samey?  In voluntary uniform?  Expensive casual?  They all wear glasses?  Plays in the staff rugby team?

Check out the staff names on Linked In.  Echo their general look, if it works for you. Imagine interacting with these people. In fact, make contact and ask for advice on joining the company.  

If none of it feels like a fit for you, if you just can’t see yourself in the corporate mould, then this is an issue you need to think through. Possibly the company wants to freshen its team with a spot of difference.  Don’t give up, just dig deeper until you can find some common ground.

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