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Make a Remarkable First Impression in One Shot

Tricia Sortisio
Tue, Dec 29, 2015

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Did you know it only takes the first few seconds of meeting a new person to leave a lasting impression? Well it's true and this is particularly important to pay attention to for those currently or soon-to-be engaged in the interview process.

Maybe you're gearing up for a career change, have remarkable experience, but haven’t formally interviewed in several years. Interviewing can be very intimidating, but don't lose sight of your first impression with everyone in the office, starting with the receptionist. It's the first impression that can make or break the outcome of your interview for that dream job!

It's the little things that matter - your appearance, demeanor and even your body language that contribute to how others form an opinion of you. Princeton University psychologist, Alex Todorov, writes, “We decide very quickly whether a person possesses many of the traits we feel are important, such as likeability and competence, even though we have not exchanged a single word with them. It appears that we are hard-wired to draw these inferences in a fast, unreflective way."  You only have one shot at a first impression and in order to set a positive tone for your interview, keep a checklist of these do’s and don’ts of making a good first impression at the the forefront of your mind. 

The Do's for a Remarkable First Impression!

  1. Be on time! This means arrive 5-10 minutes before the interview/meeting. Being early can disrupt a potential employer’s schedule as much as being late can and may make your first meeting uncomfortable.
  2. Greet with a firm handshake. A weak handshake could imply you lack confidence, while too firm can imply you are overcompensating or too confident.
  3. Appearance can be the difference in getting the job or being overlooked. Make sure your clothing is appropriate for the culture in which you are interviewing and your hair is styled and kept professional.
  4. Smiling shows a lighter side of you and implies that you are relaxed and comfortable in your surroundings. Forbes reported that "about 93 percent of the impact of an interviewee’s message comes from body language. So if it isn’t delivered with a confident smile, it’s far less persuasive and impressive.”
  5. Be yourself and be confident! Once you’ve settled into the interview, it’s ok to ask questions about the position and let the employer know what you have to offer. If you think you are a good fit for the position and can back it up, go for it!

The Don’ts for a Remarkable First Impression!

  1. Over confidence can be unappealing. Stay focused on your strengths but share them at the appropriate time during the interview. 
  2. Avoid going off topic. The interviewer may have a tight schedule, so it’s important to stay on topic unless of course they initiate a diversion to another subject matter. Even then, don’t offer personal information.
  3. Avoid chewing gum or candy. This is distracting and may be the only thing the interviewer remembers during your meeting.
  4. Never bash a past employer! This is never a good idea. It adds nothing to the interview and can damage your character. It can also portray you as a negative person.
  5. Avoid asking questions regarding vacation and sick time. An employer is looking for someone who is ready to jump in and be part of their company’s team! Asking too prematurely may indicate that you are not completely invested in the well being of the company and more concerned about what you can gain if hired.

Whether or not it’s fair, first impressions are unavoidable. It is human nature to immediately categorize individuals when we first meet them. Good interviewing practices could be the only thing between you and getting that dream job! So if you’re left wondering why you didn’t get the job you seemed qualified for, then take a look at the impression you may have left with the people that interviewed you. The answer could be right in front of you. Just remember… you never get a second chance to make a remarkable first impression!

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