How to Make a Good First Impression


Look, making a good first impression is the first priority you have to show your recruiters. Recruiters only have about 7-10 minutes to size you up and create a mental stereotype about your qualification for the position. If you blow up their mental picture of you, it’s going to take a long and hard time to change the way they see you. This will affect the outcome of your interview. In this article, you’ll learn the important things about first impressions and how to make a good one.

Let me tell you a short story,

I was to interview an applicant for an IT position around 10 am. This particular applicant showed up  30 minutes past 10 with a long flowery gown and heavy makeup. As the interview progressed, she began to give irrelevant answers to my questions while getting distracted and failing to maintain eye contact. Finally, I get to the question “Why should I hire you?” She responded while she leaned back saying “I don’t know, you should hire me because I’m hard-working, smart, and detail-oriented”

Immediately, my first impression about her was vapid. I felt she didn’t do the necessary research for the job role, didn’t manage her time, was easily distracted, had no clear intention for the job, had no preparation, and lacked self-confidence. 

What are First Impressions? 

They’re preconceived assumptions about a person, which might be true or false. We get these impressions from physical, verbal, and non-verbal information and use them to establish a person’s character within the first few minutes of interaction.

A good first impression can be positive or negative— it all depends on how well you present yourself. You want to put on a positive impression during your interview, as it’ll influence your hiring decision.

Are Positive Impressions Important? 

Positive impressions are always important because they determine the rest of the mental picture a person has of you. They’re impressions that take over the rest of the conversation. 

Unfortunately, they stick in the minds of people longer than we expect. So it is best to present yourself pleasantly and genuinely. Those 7 seconds of tiny information people pick from you shows them a 100% representation of you.


How much time does it take to form an impression?

Research has shown that it takes about 5-7 seconds to form a good first impression. Others believe it takes about 30 seconds. A study by Princeton psychologist, Alexander Todorov, found that it takes only a tenth of a second to form an impression of somebody. But on average, it takes 7 seconds for a person to make a judgment about you without ever having to use words to introduce yourself.

What are the factors that influence first impressions?

Factors that influence a good first impression are a person’s non-verbal cues, facial expressions, personal appearance, voice tone, and body language. The first time someone meets you, they look at how you dress – is your clothing too showy or classy, then, they look at your facial expressions- do you smile or have a stagnant face. 

Afterwards, they look at your non-verbal cues and body language to know how composed you are and if you make eye contact during conversations. All these factors give people a good  first impression of your lifestyle and personality. 

Why don’t we get a second chance to form a first impression? 

Will Rogers once said that we never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Why? Well, when someone meets you for the first time, there’s this automatic collection of information that uses schema to organize the information they get from preconceived ideas about you to create an identity that represents who you are, which can be false or true. 

Unfortunately, these preconceived ideas about you influence people’s absorption of who you are by creating an impression filter, even in the face of contradiction. So this impression filter works by filtering out your new information against the first impression they already have about you. 

4 Key Steps on How to Make a Good First Impression During An Interview

In making a killer first impression, you must remember to seize the first 7-10 seconds of your meeting. Here are steps on how to make a good first impression.

Be on Time.

No matter the event, be it an interview over zoom or coffee, make sure to be on time (at least 10 minutes earlier will do).Being on time is a crucial factor in making a good first impression as it helps us feel relaxed and comfortable with the environment and the people we face. It also shows your professional management skills. 

If my interviewee were smart, she would have come in at least 5 minutes earlier to get herself composed, calm and relaxed. 

Know What to Wear.

You must choose an outfit that speaks for you and send the right message that you want people to get. So, ask yourself, “what do I want people to think of me when they see me? Sophisticated, brilliant, or smart. What image do you want to project? What is the right dress code for this event? And make sure you put good thought into your attire. You can do a little dress code research on the company by checking through their social media pages to see what their employees wear on a typical day, better still, ask the recruiter for the appropriate dress code.

For example, if my application was intentional about her first impression, she could’ve walked into the interview with a charcoal or navy blue corporate blouse and trousers or dress. This way, she’d look like an expert. 

Be Confident with your Body Language.

Your body language will start speaking for you even before words jump off your mouth. Body languages are non-verbal cues to show how you feel. Make a mistake, and people might have a different opinion of you. So, try to practice positive body language like Illustrators, such as moving your hands to explain situations (this often shows that you’re engaged). Also, body language like affect displays shows emotions. One common affect-display is rubbing your palms together – it shows how excited and anticipated you are. 

The lady I interviewed slouched and clung to her body with her arms. She also failed to maintain eye contact. All I could see was someone who wasn’t confident and unreliable. It’s important to make sure your verbal communication syncs with your body language and facial expression. So, maintain eye contact, smile, nod your head in agreement, take up more space with your arms, sit up straight, keep your head high when you’re talking to others, maintain strong posture, and have a firm handshake.

Prepare ahead of time.

Make sure to do the necessary research about the job position, the interviews, and the company as a whole. This will help you remain confident during your interview, and your interviewer will see you as an individual who’s attentive to details. Also, prepare and practice answers to some likely interview questions that may come up. Don’t forget to prepare questions when your interviewees ask if you have any inquiries for them. 

Key Takeaway…

Every day, we have about 7 sec to impress someone, be it in an interview or business meeting. The sad truth is that it takes about 40 seconds of first impression to decide whether you get the job or not, especially in business environments. So, it’s best to know the key factors to alter for you to leave a positive first impression. Make sure you get there on time, dress to impress, maintain good body language, have positive non-verbal cues, and remember to smile.

If you want to learn more neat tips, you can head on over to our client services page in our eleven recruiting website.

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