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Sight Unseen – Four Ways to Improve Your Pre-Interview Image Before You Walk Through the Door

By: Michelle Metzger, Staffing Specialist

There are many clichés out there about first impressions and advice for what to wear to an interview.  However, not enough time is spent considering, or planning for, the fact that you are building an image and perception of yourself before an interviewer even sets their eyes upon you.  How is this possible?  You are providing a hiring manager with tidbits of information and interactions that all add up.  Here are some things to consider about the image you are presenting while you are still sight unseen to those making the hiring decisions.

Problem: Resume & Cover Letter

There are unlimited resources on the internet devoted to building, formatting, and revising resumes and cover letters so that will not be covered here.  Instead, consider the impact of these items.  If your resume has sporadic formatting and appears to be hastily prepared, those that review your resume will attach associations to you along the lines of sloppy, unprepared, poor computer skills, basic, and lacking in attention to detail.  Take a look at your resume; what might it say about you?

Solution: Utilize all of the free resources at your fingertips.  Learn about the different resume formats and sections that you might want to include.  Microsoft Word has pre-made resume templates and there are good ones available for free download on-line.  Always run spell-check and then proofread, proofread, proofread.

Problem: Disorganized Job Search

Have you ever applied to multiple positions in one sitting, and then later forgot which ones they were?  This is a problem.  Have you ever had a hiring manager call you about a position and you couldn’t remember the company or the position?  This is a problem.  Hiring Managers can tell on the phone when you seem uncertain or confused about the job they are calling about.  These hesitant behaviors and resulting questions make you appear to be disinterested, disengaged, and disorganized.  Additionally, you may accidentally apply to a job twice or even three times!  This may cause the hiring manager to ask, “Is he/she even paying attention?”

Solution: Organization – plain and simple.  Keep a list or spreadsheet of the positions you apply to and the names of the companies they are with.  Review each companies’ websites prior to clicking “apply.”  Not only will this help with your memory retention when they call, but it will help you better discover if that company is a good fit for you.  Be an informed job seeker.  It speaks volumes about you when you can share what you know about the company and what you learned from researching online.

For additional tips on being an organized job hunter, see the following article:

Key Tools & Tips for Being an Organized Job Hunter

Problem: Tech Details

  • You haven’t changed your email address since high school and maybe you haven’t noticed it’s not quite appropriate for job hunting.  Employers notice the small details like a slur or something sassy in your email address.  This tells them you are juvenile, unprofessional, and, again, lacking in attention to detail.
  • Do you have a ring-back tone?  If so, what is the song or sound bit playing?  These can be very off-putting to a potential employer.
  • What does your voicemail message say?  Is your voicemail box even set up or full?  Depending on the status of your voicemail, you may be fostering a negative impression.


Take a few minutes to create a new email address for job hunting and more professional interactions.  A safe bet is create a formula of your first name/initial and last name/initial.

If you have a ring back, turn it off at least while you are in a job search.

For your voicemail:

Make sure your voicemail box is set up so that potential employers can reach you.

Stay on top of deleting your old messages so there is room for a hiring manger to leave you a message about their interest in you as a candidate.

Re-record your voicemail message to something brief and professional.


Problem: Poor Phone Interview Experience

It can appear an applicant isn’t taking the application process seriously by exhibiting these behaviors:

  • Did not answer at scheduled time
  • Is clearly engaged in other activities
  • There are loud noises or crying children in the background
  • Need to be reminded about the position/employer again
  • Is on the clock at work.

A phone interview is an excellent opportunity to build a positive perception of yourself as a candidate for the position; however, blunders like those listed above can negatively trend that perception.  Again, the result of these behaviors is an impression of disorganization, disinterest, unpreparedness, a lack of respect for your current employer’s time, etc.


Schedule your phone interview for a time that truly works best for you.

Prepare yourself by reviewing the company’s website and job posting again.

Print off a copy of your resume for you to consult during the conversation.

If you have a job, schedule some time off the clock to complete the interview or request that it be held before you go in or after you get off work.

Go to a quiet place where you will not be disturbed by various distractions like children, pets, the TV, or other disruptions.


Problems Solved

Remember, the moment you click “apply,” you are creating either a positive or negative perception of yourself.  Keep these common problems in mind as you go through the job search process.  Start off strong before you even walk through the door by implementing these easy solutions.