You only get one of them at a dental hygiene job interview and it happens within seconds of the introduction.
According to research, it takes just one-tenth of a second for someone to quickly size us up. But it takes a full 20 seconds before a person is confident in their judgement, and then they tend to stick with that judgement for a while (at least 20 minutes) before they re-assess.
It all happens pretty fast, but if you are prepared you can come out of that first 20 seconds with a favorable first impression that will linger. This week, let’s review some things that will help you prepare for making a positive first impression in your dental hygiene job interviews.
I think this has to be the most important because it precedes any verbal interaction. It’s your first shot at an impression. There’s a ton of science on the impact of a smile and if there’s anyone who knows that well, it’s a dental hygienist. Everyone gets nervous and can forget – but this is one you simply can’t forget.
Admittedly, this is hard for some because there’s a bit of an art to it, a balance. Some give too much and others too little. Base yours on what others do – if they are looking away a whole bunch, you may be making them feel uncomfortable by giving them too much. Of if they are giving you too much eye contact, maybe it’s because they feel they need to get your attention (because you are looking away too much). If it’s hard for you to give eye contact, try looking slightly above or below their eyes. But give your stare a break, look away from time to time, that actually makes people feel more comfortable when you are talking to them if you aren’t looking for too long in one direction.
I’ve written about this in other articles. Always err on the side of over-dressed for job interviews – business casual is acceptable to some, but business professional impresses everyone.
Your demeanor or your presence is set by how you feel emotionally. If possible, do things that help you relax prior to your interview. Familiarity is good – it brings us comfort and allows our mind to handle and process things much more rationally. Get up the same time you normally do in the morning, eat similar things, drive a familiar route, etc.
For men, a firm handshake is an absolute. For women , it’s important too. But I guess some of the advice here is to make sure your handshake is neither a death grip or nor a wimpy clasp – find the medium and go with it. If you care to read more, click here for a good article on it.
Good posture shows confidence and stability – both attributes employers want in an employee. Check yours out and practice. Sit on the edge of your seat when being interviewed as this tends to force or more correct pose and shows you are interested and engaged.
I would seriously practice your pacing, how long you take to answer questions, and your choice of words. I’ve seen people bomb an interview the second they open their mouth by saying something that, while not necessarily offensive, is immature or unprofessional. Or maybe they get a little too nervous and dominate (say too much) or are speaking too rapidly.
Most dental hygienists I have met and interviewed are very much in-tune with this area. So it’s mostly just a quick reminder to make sure the levels of your perfumes and such are good and not overwhelming. It would be better to not smell them at all than to smell someone that has over-done it.
All of these tips are fairly simple to master, but they do take some preparation ahead of time and a little of awareness. But above all else, be real – be yourself. It’s really easy to spot someone who isn’t being genuine, even within that brief first impression.