Why First Impressions Count
The logic behind first impressions:
The first half minute of an interview is sufficient to make or break your prospects – experience, and more recently, research at universities such as Preston, have affirmed the importance of first impressions in daily social interactions – job interviews are an example of one such especially intense encounter.
There is an astounding amount of advice on how to be successful at an interview, but it is often enough to confuse an individual to the point that they trip over their own feet (metaphorically, and in the author’s case, literally too!).
It is far simpler to learn the ‘logic’ behind first impressions rather than remembering long winded advice on how to make good ones.
Psychological studies indicate that individuals give initial information much more importance compared to what they learn later, as far as evaluating other individuals is concerned. This is a simple truth: the first thing people learn about anything, be it an idea, a place, or a person, will affect how they process what they learn later. Put another way, there is a greater likelihood of people observing the cliché ‘the first impression is the last impression.’
How does this work in a job interview you might wonder? Imagine you weren’t able to find the venue easily, or perhaps the traffic was bad. Or maybe there was a heavy shower which soaked you on your way to the building. Regardless of your negative experiences on the way, it is important that you be positive, so as to make a positive first impression:
Interviewer: ‘Did you have any problem with the rush hour traffic?’ You: ‘There wasn’t any trouble at all, thanks for asking.’
Interviewer: ‘It seems to be quite the downpour outside?’ You: ‘At last, it hasn’t rained in a while!’
This is just one example of how to appear positive in an interview.
If you remember why first impressions are important, it will be easier to improvise as you go along. If you come across as warm and engaging, the interviewer may not even notice minor hiccups later on into the interview. However, if you give of a self-absorbed, distracted aura from the outset, the interviewer will judge you in this negative light throughout, and you may have to put in a lot of effort to negate this in the rest of the interview.
After your first impression has been etched into people’s mind – and it is positive – they will seek information to strengthen this belief. It is human psyche to want to be right about characters the first time, so they will want their positive initial impression to hold. This gives you an advantage in the interview – the person on the other side of the table thinks you are a good person and wants to reinforce their initial estimate. Now you’re all set to prove them right!
How to make a good first impression:
That being said, here are some fundamental tips on how to make a good first impression:
- Arrive a bit early: Getting to the interview spot before time will give you some time to prepare yourself mentally. In any case, it is good to be punctual, and employers will notice this trait and will give it due consideration, regardless of the job you’re interviewing for.
- Dress the part: Dressing correctly and professionally is vital no matter which job you’re applying for. While there are certain professions that don’t necessitate wearing a two-piece, it is advisable to dress as if you already have the job you are interested in. In fact, common wisdom indicates that you should dress as if you already have a job one tier above the one you are interviewing for! Think of the interview as an audition, you have better chances of getting the part if you dress the part. Remember, there is no second chance for making a first impression. There is no way you could miss out on a job because you looked too professional. But you may be ignored for the opportunity if you present yourself in a non-professional manner.
- Have a firm handshake: This will indicate your confidence, and if you can combine it with polite, animated eye contact, your interviewer will warm up to you at once. Remember, there’s a difference between appearing confident and appearing arrogant.
- Ensure that your body language implies positivity: Sit straight and lean into the chair slightly, with your hands on your lap. Be honest and direct in answering any queries the interviewer has.
If you can look the part and be sufficiently confident, you will be able to make an excellent first impression on your possible employer. This will distinguish you from the rest of the crowd.