Do First Impressions Really Matter
During interview settings, a first impression could make or break your chance to land the job.
That may sound superficial, but it goes both ways.
An interviewer is trying to learn everything they can about you in a short period of time to judge whether you will be a good fit for the position or not.
While you are trying to make a good first impression, you’re also trying to learn more about the position and the company to judge if you want to work there or not.
You may think that a first impression doesn’t matter as much as long-term performance, but even when you land the job you need to put your best foot forward.
If you make a bad first impression, you will have to work twice as hard to prove yourself over the long-term. Even then, one slip up and it will bring you right back to the beginning where your negative first impression is reinforced.
In interview settings, it is very difficult to get a second chance, so always prepare and do you best to make a good first impression.
Use first impressions to your advantage and set yourself apart from the crowd.
There are 6 ways to make a good first impression during an interview:
- Be 15 Minutes Early
Arrive for your interview 15 minutes early.
Any earlier, and you will feel like an inconvenience for the people who will be interviewing you. Any later, and you will either be late for your interview or make an impression that you don’t manage your time effectively.
Arriving on time for your interview is considered late for a first impression.
- Dress for the Job You Want
Even if you’re applying for a job in a company with a casual dress code, take the time to put together a business appropriate outfit, wash your hair, get a good night’s sleep, etc.
Appearance isn’t everything, but the way you look in an interview is your very first impression and you want to do everything you can to make it a good one.
We’ve evolved to let our unconscious minds handle first impressions because there is so much information to take in, that our conscious minds can be overwhelmed.
Use this to your advantage to exude confidence from the way you feel to the way you dress and the way you talk. You want to positively overwhelm the interviewer so they know they need to hire you over your competition.
- Confidence with your walk, talk and attitude.
Emotions are contagious.
If you walk into an interview nervous and anxious for it to be over, the interviewer will feel your energy and will want to end the interview quickly as well.
Believe in yourself, your skills and your ability to add value.
You want to own the interview and leave knowing you put your best foot forward to make a good first impression.
Stand tall, walk with your head held high, deliver a firm (but not too strong) handshake, make eye contact, and smile.
These simple things will make a difference for creating a good first impression because a “study found that when meeting new people, verbal impact accounts for only seven percent of the first impression you make. The quality of your voice, grammar and overall confidence makes up 38% of the impression, and 55% is communicated by the way you dress, act and walk through the door.” (Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck)
- Ask Questions
Being engaging with your answers is obviously important during an interview, but an area where you can stand out and make a great first impression is by asking questions.
Prepare for your interview by researching the company and create a list of about 10 intelligent questions.
Not questions about vacation days or company parties.
Specific questions about how success is measured in the role, career plans for employees within the company, corporate social responsibility plans, etc.
- Say Thank You
We’re all super busy these days.
Take the extra time to send in a hand written Thank You note or at least an email to the people who interviewed you.
If you made a good first impression during your interview, this Thank you will tip the scales in your favour and be another way that you stand out against your competition.
- Continue to Do Your Best
Even when you land the job, you’re still making many first impressions during the three month probation period (typical at most companies).
It is a good idea to continue dressing for success, putting extra effort into all of your tasks, and becoming a productive member of your team as soon as possible.
Use the power of first impressions to your advantage and stand out from your competition
Overall, you will be judged in an interview because the potential employer is trying to make predictions about your future behaviours (i.e. time management, organization, communication, preparation skills, etc.).
Remember, “it’s clichéd because it’s true: You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” (Shana Lebowitz)