The Secret to a Great First Impression in College Interviews

George Wigington
George Wigington

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The power of a first impression cannot be overstressed. A great first impression in college interviews can help you differentiate yourself from any pool of applicants. In fact, the first impression rule is true in interviewing for jobs or networking at social events, too. These five secrets are guaranteed to increase your chances of nailing that first impression.

Business Insider states that you have approximately seven seconds to make a first impression on someone. Within those seven seconds, it is essential that you practice the following tips in order to maximize your potential. Making a great first impression in college interviews ensures that your interviewer remembers you.

1. A Firm Handshake

The handshake is almost impossible to master but easy to improve upon. First things first, make sure that your right hand is dry. A sweaty handshake is a deal breaker for job interviewers. If necessary, subtly wipe the damp palm on your pant leg before getting up to shake hands. Even if the interviewer notices this, they will appreciate that you did not go through with the dreaded wet shake.

In addition to dryness, ensure that your handshake is firm but not overbearing. Gage your grip squeeze with the interviewer’s. You want them to feel that you are confident but do not want to cause them any pain. Finally, keep your wrist in a neutral position when shaking. If you attempt to face your right palm to the ground, the interviewer may perceive this as an attempt to assert dominance. In contrast to this, if you let the interviewer turn your palm up when shaking, then they may perceive you as a pushover.

2. Eye Contact

Eye contact is essential when first interacting with a college interviewer. As you shake their hand, meet their eyes directly so that they know you are listening. Do not look away throughout the shake and introductions, as they may perceive this as a sign of intimidation. In addition, do not let your eyes veer around the room throughout the entire interviewing process. They want to know that you are interested in them, the school, and the information they are giving you. This eye contact will also help you listen to the interview questions and give you more time to formulate an impressive response.

3. First and LAST Name

College students nowadays are extremely casual when they introduce themselves to others. This is a common but grave mistake. In classrooms, networking events, and most importantly job interviews, introduce yourself to others by stating your first and last name clearly. No one will remember you in any first impression if you give them only your first name. Say your first and last names loudly and slowly, as this is vital information for your interviewer to remember.

If you do not catch your interviewers name, politely ask them to repeat the name by saying “I’m sorry?” after they state it. By interacting with someone using their first or last name, you can create a personal connection with them and make a memorable first impression.

4. Smile

Despite how nervous you may be going in to interview for college, a smile during your introduction shows confidence and compassion. You want to convey that you are happy to be there and that you are enjoying the opportunity to interact with this stranger. Practice this friendly smile in the mirror. You do not want your smile to appear forced or awkward, so keep practicing until you find a smile that you would want to be greeted with! Hold the smile through the initial eye contact but not through the entire introductions. This will set the interview off to a positive start and begin an amicable relationship with your interviewer.

5. Read the Room

The fifth secret to nailing a college interview is the hardest to perfect. Reading the room means that you should try your best to match the body language, energy level, and demeanor of your interviewer. If they come off as straight forward and no nonsense, avoid telling long stories and trying to relate to them. On the other hand, if they are relaxed and casual, talk them up and bring back your smile from tip number four. A college, job, or organization often considers if you would be a good fit into their company as more important than if your resume qualifies you. When your interviewer turns to sit, quickly scan the room and see if they have any pictures, awards, or knick knacks in their office that you can relate to. Reading the room will help you build a strong personal connection with your interviewer and ultimately help you get into your dream school.


These five tips for a first impression will help you further your career, whether you are in high school, college, or already graduated. Your network is your net worth; and in order to grow that network you must first learn how to make a memorable connection. By practicing these five tips in the mirror, on your relatives, and at school, it will become habit. Then, you will confidently nail your first impression in college interviews and throughout life! 

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