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How to Make a Good First Impression for Your Entry-Level Interview

How to Make a Good First Impression for Your Entry-Level Interview

November 13, 2009

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. That’s great advice. But, the truth is: during a job interview or networking opportunity we do often judge a book by its cover. So, while it is important to say all of the right things during your job interview and networking opportunities; your actions and body language often speak much louder. Rather than bemoaning this simple truth of human nature, learn to use it to your advantage.

The First Seven Seconds

How you present yourself – from grooming and dress to body language and level of confidence – plays a major role in how others will evaluate you during an initial meeting.

“You have approximately seven seconds in which to make a good first impression,” says wardrobe stylist, Kristen Kaleal. “That’s the amount of time it takes to shake somebody’s hand and then take a seat. That’s before we’ve had a chance to thell them how great we are or how qualified we are. It’s before we’ve had a chance to become ourselves.”

The initial impression made in that first seven seconds will often lay the foundation for the remainder of your interview or first meeting. If the impression made is less than favorable, you’ll spend the next seven minutes trying to overcome the poor impression made during those first seven seconds. The good news? You have a say when it comes to how others think of you.

Impression Management

“We have the power to control what people think of us. It’s called impression management. It means that we can control what other people think of us based on our appearance, our grooming, and how we communicate with them,” Kaleal says. “We can use [impression management] to spin our brand in the direction we want it to be perceived.”

By putting careful thought and effort into self-presentation we can greatly influence the first impression others form of us. This requires being deliberate in our choice of dress and grooming, being conscious and in control of our body language, and being focused in our communication with others.

Avoid First Impression Faux Pas

“The worst faux pas you can have is poor grooming,” Kaleal says. Clean, stylish clothing, shoes, and hair are important for every job hunter. Don’t overlook your hands and nails. “People do look at your hands. Make sure that your nails aren’t too long and that your nails are clean,” Kaleal adds. She reminds job hunters that body art and body piercings should not be visible during a job interview.

According to Kaleal, it is beneficial for women to learn how to apply makeup properly. She cites a study done by economics professors that indicate women who wear makeup make more money. She also advises women to wear hosiery until someone tells you otherwise. Kaleal’s advice for men? “No facial hair is preferable. If you do have facial hair, it should be well-groomed.”

Get an Objective Opinion

When working virtually with clients, I always suggest the client send photos of how she’d typically dress in an interview. Most people have the same reaction: “I’ve got that covered.” While this may be true, it is impossible for us to objectively gauge the first impression we’re making on others. Since the first impression you make is critical to success in your job search, it’s important to get a second opinion.

Ask someone who will be objective. Give them permission to be completely honest with you about your look, your grooming, your body language, and the impression it makes upon others. Thank them for their honesty and be respectful of their opinions. Use this information to fashion a favorable first impression.

Get more tips from Kristen Kaleal on how to fashion a favorable first impression by listening to Look Good and Feel Confident During Your Job Search and Beyond.