Make the Best First Impression!

By Joe Stein

Making a great first impression is a crucial part of your job search. Why? Because changing a person’s or company’s opinion of you, once it has been established, is very difficult to near impossible to do.
 
Interviewers will never admit it but, for many, the basis of their opinion of you will occur in the first five minutes that you spend together. Whether they are consciously making this conclusion or not, it is usually occurring. The time spent together in the rest of your interview will usually serve to confirm for the Interviewer what they determined in the first few minutes of the discussion.
 
Tips for Making the Best 1st Impression:
 
·         Be Conscious of Your Stance/Posture – When going through the initial introductions, make sure you are standing up straight with your shoulders back and chin up. This will convey confidence and poise to the person.
 
·         Make Eye Contact – Eye contact conveys much in American culture, such as confidence, interest, and warmth. Don’t let yourself hide behind your front bangs.
 
·         Smile – A nice smile displays warmth and is the part of the proper greeting when introductions are made. Your smile also will let the Interviewer know that you are relaxed and ready to go. Don’t have any gum or candy in your mouth that will prove to be a distraction.
 
·         Handshake – Offer a firm grasp to your Interviewer. Be cautious not to be too firm as the goal is not to have a test of strength. Also, take the cue of your Interviewer and if the person does not offer a full handshake, then adjust accordingly. Be careful not to offer a very limp handshake, even if you are of the female gender. It can be easily taken as a sign of weakness, meekness, or insecurity.
 
·         Practice Your Opening – You do not want to stammer or stutter when exchanging your opening pleasantries, so… prepare ahead of time! Have your opening lines ready such as about the weather, sports, etc., so you limit your need to improvise. Don’t forget to have your cellular phone off, so it won’t go off when you are making this connection.
 
·         Be Prompt - Don’t ever be late for any appointment scheduled including phone interviews. Arrive on-site for an in-person interview approx. 10-15 minutes early.
 
·         Don’t Ramble – Rambling will serve as a dead giveaway to the Interviewer that you are very nervous. You want to be social, but don’t be afraid of a little dead air.
 
·         Don’t Fidget – Don’t play with your hair, crack your knuckles, check gum, or fiddle with your jewelry. It provides an appearance of nervousness and immaturity.
 
·         Dress the Part - It may seem obvious, but dress the part for the position you are seeking. Also, make sure your personal grooming is up to the standard needed. If you are a smoker, try not to smoke from the time of shower to the interview. The smell can be a turn-off to non-smokers and leave a negative first impression. Cologne or perfume should be used sparingly or avoided altogether. 
 
Don’t forget that 1st impressions are not relegated to just the interview. It also occurs anytime you are making any type of contact with a person for the first time. 
 
·         You are making a crucial 1st impression with the Receptionist when you step in the front doors to pick up an application or attend your interview. The Front Desk person is often a person that a savvy Hiring Manager will speak to regarding the impression made when cementing his or her opinion.
 
·         Be conscious of your Voice Mail message. Make sure, if a prospective employer calls you and receives your voice mail greeting, they won’t be embarrassed by the immaturity of its content. Your Voice Mail for job search purposes should be brief and simple with NO attempts at humor.
 
·         Make sure your e-mail address on your Resume is presentable. Please do not create double entendres or cutesy takeoffs on your name.
 
·         Drop the MySpace (or any Social Networking profile) page if it will prove to be embarrassing to you. Savvy Recruiters will do a profile check on candidates they are interested in or concerned with.
 
·         Your Cover Letter and Resume should be free of any grammatical or typographical errors.
 
·         If you are handwriting a traditional application, make sure you complete the document fully without messy cross-outs.
 
·         Be cautious with humor. One person’s hilarity may make another person offended. In today’s politically correct world, humor should probably be best saved for when you know the person.
 
 A positive first impression will help lead the path of success for any savvy Job Seeker. The whole journey is important, but that first impression may be just what you need to land the job you want. 
 
As always, best of luck in your job search. 
 
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNY Jobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
 
Joe Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional