Ponder this: First impressions

by Madison Garner 

The search for summer employment has begun. When preparing for an interview, you may be forgetting one of the most important parts: the first impression. A first impression is powerful because people view future interactions through the lens of the first impression, according to Social Information Processing Theory.

A positive first impression in an interview can help the rest of the interview be seen positively, while a negative first impression can make it difficult to achieve a good interview.

Several factors go into a first impression. Physical aspects (such as clothing and attractiveness), communication characteristics (such as rate or tone of voice) and  non-verbal cues (such as how far away a person stands or a person’s use of touch), can influence a first impression.

Research differs on how quickly a first impression is formed, from 30 seconds to three seconds. Applicants should be proactive within this narrow window of time to help create a positive lens through which their future actions can be viewed.

Before the interview, pick an outfit that conveys a positive, professional message. Find out the office dress code from the front desk before the interview, and wear something nicer, according to a US News and World Report article.

Smile and make eye contact when meeting the interviewer. Facial expressions influence a first impression, and a friendly smile conveys fun and warmth, according to a Business Insider article. Avoiding eye contact conveys passivity and weakness.

“To make a good first impression make sure you lock eyes with the interviewer as soon as you enter the room and maintain it whilst you shake hands and introduce yourself,” according to a Business Insider article.

In the first moments of meeting, shake the interviewer’s hand, even if you have to initiate the handshake, according to a Mashable article. Introduce yourself during the handshake, prompting them to introduce themselves.

“You can reply ‘lovely to meet you’ or something similar. It breaks the tension and gives the first few seconds a conversation topic,” according to a Business Insider article.

Applying these techniques can help applicants create a positive first impression, which sets the foundation for what employers think of them. Whether the interview is for a competitive internship for a Fortune 500 company or for an entry-level job at a local coffee shop, a positive impression can be the difference between passed over and employed.

Contact Madison Garner at mgarner16@my.whitworth.edu

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