By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes

You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Interviews can be some of the most stressful experiences of a person’s life. As a career coach, I have worked with many clients in helping them prepare for these moments and discovered that for many, the most frightening moment is simply walking through the door.

As you enter into an interview stakes can be high and emotions may be running. Take advantage of this moment to make a positive first impression. Don’t worry it is totally doable, all you need is seven seconds!

When you meet someone, your body language makes a powerful impact. But, first impressions are not just limited to your body language. A great deal plays into being perceived as relaxed, confident and reliable.

Use these five tips to make your lasting impression and kick start your interview:

1. Smile with Authenticity

When you smile you experience an increase in mood which also improves the mood of those around you. But, simply curling your lips up is not enough. Our brains can feel out a real smile versus a fake one. One way people do this is by subconsciously mimicking the person’s smile.  

As you prepare to walk into your interview imagine a situation where you experienced joy or think of someone you deeply love. This will plant an authentic smile on your face and put you in a good mood.

2. Firm Up Your Hand Shake

A handshake has more power then you may think. It not only puts an impression on the person you are shaking hands with, but everyone else in the room. If you are in a group interview, as you go around the room and meet each person, the portion of the brain associated to reward and motivation sensitivity, the nucleus accumben, is activated. Simply put, third-party observers feel rewarded watching you shake hands.

Studies show that a firm handshake will make a lasting first impression for both men and women. Having a soft or limp handshake creates the impression of shyness and being less intellectual. Whereas, having a firm handshake and making eye contact while doing so leads to increased ratings of employment.  

3. Understand the Companies Dress Code

With business casual becoming the norm, preparing your outfit for an interview can be difficult to navigate. Do some research beforehand to try and learn about the company’s culture. If you look online, you can probably find videos or pictures of people working at the company. Or check out some LinkedIn profiles to get a feel for the company culture. This will give you an idea of what their typical dress is like. A good rule of thumb is to err on the side of over dressing.  

Make sure what you pick is something you are also comfortable in. You want to feel confident in what you are wearing without it distracting you or those you are talking to.  

4. Breath into Your Tone of Voice

People who put out the right kinds of sounds (a richly resonant voice) are more likely to be accepted and become leaders in a group.

This rich voice is something that takes practice. Many of us sit at desks all day which leads to chest breathing. Practice good belly breathing. Stand and take long inhales and exhales through your belly. Then speak. This will increase your resonance and decrease your nasal breath. Your voice will become a sweet symphony as you introduce yourself to your future coworkers.

5. Stand Strong

Body language can make or break a first impression. Our posture has the power to not only influence how others perceive us but also our body’s chemistry. Walking into a room with arms open and chin tilted up will come across much different than if your arms are crossed and shoulders curving inward.  

A great way to prep for the interview is to stand in a power pose for two minutes prior to heading in. Stand like Superwoman (feet hips-width distance, arms on hips and shoulders back) in the restroom or parking lot and feel the confidence build within you. You are posed and ready to make a powerful first impression that will lead through the entire interview process.

Walk into your next interview exuding confidence and respect. Starting off on the right foot will set you steps ahead for getting the job you desire.  

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  • I'm a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host (You Turn Podcast) and author, here to help you step into a career you're excited about and aligned with. This may look like coaching you 1:1, hosting you in one of my courses, or meeting you at one of workshops or keynote speaking engagements! I also own CAKE Media, a house of ghostwriters, copywriters, publicists and SEO whizzes that help companies and influencers expand their voice online. Before being an entrepreneur, I was an award-winning counterterrorism professional who helped the Pentagon in Washington, DC with preparing civilians to prepare for the frontlines of the war on terror.