I’m sure you are already aware of how important first impressions are. But you may not be aware that the “first impression” is actually only a seven second window of the initial meeting.
This means that when it comes to an interviewing situation, you need to act quickly in order to make a memorable first impression. To get hired and remembered, here are five big reasons why your first impressions may not be working even if you thought you did a great job.
Does your appearance match expectations?
Of course you may not know what the visual expectations are when you first meet someone. If you are interviewing for a position, you should have a visual in your mind of what type of clothes the person wears in the job that you are applying for. For example; an account manager position, you will meet clients in person. Make sure to dress professional which could include a matching two piece outfit or a dress and blazer. Just make sure to look professional since you will be the front face and represent the company.
“When you look good, you feel good.” This has always been my motto and it’s true. You will automatically walk taller, look confident, comfortable and happy.
Appearances really matter in first impressions. This is the first information someone has about you – and plays a bigger role in the first meeting than they do in later meetings.
Dress the part and project professional presence. Employers are seeking staff that have a sense of poise, confidence and are competent. Make sure you wear a touch of color, for example, a black matching outfit with a red blouse. Red symbolizes a subtle influence of power.
What is your style? This matters too. A person can usually figure out by the clothes your wear if you have a serious, fun, traditional or progressive look. Your style tells an “instant story” about you. So it’s important to make sure you project your story the way you want it to be told. You are your own walking billboard.
It’s important to point out that you don’t have to be good-looking to look good. Beauty is nice, but confidence is what matters. I was once hired based on the confidence that I projected in the interview. My boss said that she wished she had my confidence and was impressed by it and knew that I could do the job.
When you look good, you will feel good and project a positive image that shows your style, poise and comfort in your own skin.
Are you present?
Walk tall, maintain eye contact, smile and present a firm handshake.
Relax and get in the flow of what’s going on in the room. Don’t think about the next question you are going to ask. The interviewer will be able to tell if you’re thinking about it and it shows on your face.
Stay in the moment and listen intently with eye contact. This gives the interviewer the indication that you are in the moment of the conversation and interested. Focus on what’s being said and at times you can use the same information in your answers. The person is giving you information about the position, including who is the ideal candidate for the job. So really listen. During my years of interviewing for jobs, I found I was able to use the same information that the interviewer gave me. By making eye contact and nodding toward them, it makes them feel at ease and more comfortable with you.
Don’t forget to smile. A smile represents that you are happy, positive and approachable. This is an invitation to the interviewer to make contact.
The handshake impacts your initial impression and should be firm and complete the grip, but not too heavy that the person’s hand is hurting. The firm handshake is seen as more confident and assertive.
Do you project the right energy?
What type of energy are you presenting when you meet people in person?
Even if you are a calm person, you must show that you still have it – your energy that is. Your energy includes how much you talk, how fast and how loud. You can still have a calming nature, but be involved in conversations for new ideas and thinking. Competition is fierce and employers are trying to keep up and think of faster and new ways of working.
When talking to people, “lean in” or forward. This shows your interest and energy as well.
Show how you are not stuck in your ways and able to adapt to changing ways by giving examples of working in an environment where you had to adapt quickly to a change. Show how flexible you are. If you’ve worked in more than one company, that’s a good thing these days and shows your resilience.
Did you connect with the interviewer?
People are comfortable working with someone who has similar interests, lifestyle or know some of the same people. I knew a past employee of the company that I interviewed with and the interviewer was very fond of her. I also commented on my potential boss’ picture of her grand-daughter hanging on the wall and she was so excited that I noticed. She proceeded to talk another 5 minutes about her. Of course, she couldn’t ask me any questions about my family since that is illegal, but openly giving her some personal information about me having a daughter helped us connect. She immediately felt we had similar interests due to having children.
You can also look around the room and find any pictures that you can comment about to generate a conversation and connection. Show interest in the interviewer as a person, since people like to talk about themselves and want to work with someone who they feel they connect with.
Did you prove your worth without mentioning money?
Always have prepared questions to ask the interviewer, team and hiring manager, but one the most important things to do is to bring any documents to the interview that supports your accomplishments.
For example, if the position requires you to create a new process, then bring the document that highlights where you did that at another company. Be prepared to leave it with the company and remove any confidential information.
Prove why you are the most qualified and Get Hired!
So I ask, are your First Impressions working for you?
Find out how to get noticed and identify your First Impressions personal style and brand. Learn how they impact your professional success and sign up for my 11-page workbook @ www.FirstImpressionsMatter.com