First Impression at Job Interview

It is said that it only takes 7 seconds to form a first impression of someone.

Imagine how critical those seconds are when you’re meeting your future manager for the first time at a job interview. The person who knows s/he’s about to give the job to someone s/he has to deal with 30 hours a week.

Don’t underestimate that time. The job interview has begun the moment you walked through that door and greeted the receptionist. (Yes, her opinion can be asked of you later by the manager)

And when the interviewer rounds the corner and first lays eyes on you in the lobby, the 7-second timer has started.

There are three things you need to pass in the first seconds of greeting a manager:

  1. Professionalism
  2. Likability
  3. Communication

What you wear does most of the talking here.

I remembered when I was interviewing for internal positions in my company. On two occasions with different hiring managers, they commented on my tie.

I could only imagine as it was an internal position, other internal candidates just showed up with whatever default office clothes they wear everyday.

By wearing a simple tie and blazer, it showed the hiring management I was serious about getting this role.

Unless you know for certain through insider information, that the hiring manager prefers dealing with people who dress casually, always default to formal office wear. It’s the safe choice.

The hiring manager hires the person they trust and like the most. While trust will be developed during the course of the interview, likability is instantly felt.

We’re all human. We’ve felt this too. Anytime we meet someone new for the first time, you know in seconds whether you will get along with this person or not.

During those first seconds, your smile and handshake does most of the work here.

You’d be surprised at the number of times I’ve come across folks that just don’t smile (or have a very faint hint of a smile) when meeting a stranger.

When shaking that hand, make eye contact, a firm(ish) grip, and a smile will get your likability off to the right start.

Small talk will govern the time from the handshake to settling down in the manager’s office. During the journey, they will possibly talk about the commute, the weather or any other safe generic topics.

One-worded responses is not a good sign. It shows that you’re not confident dealing with strangers. Sure you may be nervous, but nerves shouldn’t get you tongue-tied.

Keep the conversation engaging. Respond with 2 full sentences and don’t ramble on.

And always keep the conversation positive. I remembered one candidate – the only small talk we had was him complaining about how the recruiter screwed up the address and he ended up in the wrong building. That went on for 7 minutes. That interview was over before it started.

Remember, you will spend most of your time communicating in your position. The manager knows this and is thinking about if they and their team will feel comfortable communicating with you.

Keep these three points in mind when picturing how those first seconds when greeting the hiring manager is going to go. Rehearse it, visualize it. It will certainly help getting over those job interview nerves.