120 seconds. That’s how long it takes for an interviewer to decide whether they want to hire you or not. First impressions set the tone for the interview and in the majority of cases, once that impression is set, it is not usually turned around. Here are some important tips you can use to ensure you make a great first impression.

Energy level. Show some bounce in your step. Act like you are excited to be there and are filled with ideas.

Eye contact. Look the interviewer right in the eye to make person-to-person contact. And SMILE like you are happy to see them. People instinctively react well to happy, smiling people.

Watch your handshake. Everyone knows that a dead-fish handshake is the kiss of death. So are sweaty palms (put baby powder in your pocket if you have to). Knowing that a handshake is so important, have you tested yours? Try shaking your loved ones’ hand and see how it works. Women in particular tend to overcompensate and shake hands too hard.

Dress appropriately. You can never go wrong by dressing conservatively. If you are not sure, for example, whether you should wear a tie or not (suit for women), try asking the receptionist. Just say “I am coming in for an interview on Friday and just wondered if you could help me. What is the dress code there?” Receptionists generally love to help. DO NOT OVERDRESS. I know a well-qualified executive who showed up in a double-breasted suit, expensive tie and matching handkerchief. He made his potential boss feel like a slob and wasn’t invited back.

Be aware from the time you hit the lobby. Many companies will ask the receptionist what they thought of you, what did you read in the lobby, etc. One firm even asks the receptionist if the candidate washed their hands after going to the bathroom (you can hear the sink on in the lobby). From the moment you step onto the premises, make believe you are on hidden camera and put your best foot forward.

Finally, be friendly. Turn the interview from a question and answer session to an interesting conversation. Remember, employers hire people they like, so build rapport with the interviewer.

Practice these tips, and you will see a dramatic difference in how people respond to you.

Author's Bio: 

Don Goodman, President of About Jobs (www.GotTheJob.com) is a nationally recognized Expert Resume Writer, Certified Career Management Coach and Job Search Strategist. A graduate of the Wharton School of Business and Stanford University's Executive Program, Don has helped thousands of people secure their next job. Get a Free Resume Evaluation, read his blog at www.GotTheJob.com/blog/ or contact him at 800-909-0109 or by e-mail at DGoodman@GotTheJob.com.