Advice

How to make a great first impression at work

By Jake Barratt

Starting a new job may be intimidating. The first bit of advice I would give you is trying to make yourself look respectable to your employer. Try having a one-week detox from nights out. Start as you mean to go on. It is all about getting into a good head space. The reason I’m suggesting this detox is because you need to be alert as you’re going to be taking in a lot of new information and should really feel on the top of your game when doing this this.

As a former university drop out, I got to see what life was like in the working world. I worked in a Lloyds Bank call centre and trust me it was hell on earth going in on a hangover. Customer complaints seemed like death threats, hours seemed like days and trying to avoid my manager on a Friday morning after a killer night out on the Thursday, was the most stressful part of the week.

Now I’m back in university, and debatably a year more mature, I’m now in a part time role in Tesco. When prepping for this interview, I made sure I was clean shaven and after a few checks in the mirror, and facetiming my mum for fashion advice, decided to go with a blue tie hoping the interviewer would appreciate my attempt to coordinate with the Tesco colours. Maybe I was overthinking this a bit, but it shows I was making an effort. Always remember, when you are called in for in interview it means they see potential in you, so you’re half way there. Now, you just have to make them BELIEVE you have potential, in a span of 15-20 mins (scary, I know).

Okay, so interview day hits. I’m walking through the city centre of Cardiff on my way to the store, listening to the Best of The Beatles, trying to distract myself from the fact that I am desperate for a cigarette. The last thing an employer would want is for me to stink out the room with the smell of smoke.

Walking into the store I decided to shake hands with the security guard and asked him to point me in the direction of the manager. Looking back this was a pretty smart thing to do as I know for a fact the staff talk about you the minute you leave. Clutching my little black book, which contained a number of questions such as their expectations of me and timetabling around exam periods, I walked up the stairs to find the deputy manager surprised to see me, twenty minutes early.

“Ooo you’re eager aren’t you” she said jokingly. Honestly, hearing this gave me more relief than any cheap packet of cigarettes could. I was off to a decent start, I looked smart and was already making a good impression. I realised that the way to go about interviews is to trick yourself into believing you’re the right person for the job. The phrase “believing your own lies” is often seen in a negative light but I truly believe this is the key to successfully getting a job. If you go in to the interview with your head clear, you might surprise yourself.

I’m going to reword the cliché “just be yourself” to “be the best version of yourself that you want to them to see.” Why not carry on being that best self? Brush off the cobwebs from your high school drama skills and pretend you’re that person, even if you’re not.

If you truly want that Oscar, do what any great actor would do and research the role. After all, in the workplace none of us are really going to be our true selves. Just ask the director how they want you to play that role!

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