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Turning the tables, how does your first impression measure up?

Turning the tables, how does your first impression measure up?

Posted on 18/02/2016 by Entrée Recruitment

first impressions

As a strong believer in first impressions and how important it is to leave one that lasts, I am always finding myself surprised by how this is not viewed as strongly by the candidates I am interviewing. I could go on for days giving examples of terrible first impressions, but that is not why I have pulled you away from your task at hand. I am here to do a reversal and put the heat on the interviewer. What first impression do you leave?

I imagine for most of you, the cogs of a guilty conscience are now ticking away. I will admit that inevitably, I am guilty of a few awkward first impressions. There have been times when I have conducted an interview and when finished thought “How could I have said that?”. I have also discovered after an interview that half my lunch was glaring at me through the crevices of my teeth. And then there's the time I walked into the waiting room to meet a candidate, full of confidence, only to turn around and walk directly into the wall behind me! I have even conducted an interview that was so successful that I automatically hugged the candidate instead of the usual firm handshake.

Now, we all know that it takes approximately 7 seconds to secure your first impression. Have you at all considered that maybe your interviewee is judging you this quickly too? Candidates too can determine your suitability to  either assist them and to represent them in their job hunt, or to be their hiring manager. Offering a smile or a cup of tea will go a long way. Leaving your candidate waiting for 15 minutes, I assure you, will not!

I have been lucky enough to only be interviewed a handful of times in my career, and of these times I can say with great disappointment that only one interviewer left a positive lasting impression. The difference between this particular interviewer and all the others is the way they made me feel within those first 7 seconds. I was treated with celebrity status. Now obviously, and downright disappointingly, I am not a celebrity! But in those short moments, I felt so reassured and confident that I just knew my interviewer was the real deal. Hence, our fruitful and long lasting relationship began.

Those first 7 seconds are not just about leaving a lasting impression. They are also about how you make the candidate feel. A good first impression creates a space for candidates to feel confident and comfortable to express themselves honestly throughout the interview.

Unfortunately, I did not have this experience with my first interview upon my arrival in Adelaide. After waiting in a dim and desolate waiting room for several minutes past my interview time, I was finally approached by what appeared to be my interviewer. Greeted with a frown and a disinterested handshake, I was then lead down to what I can only describe as the dragon's den! 7 seconds turned into 60 and after this long and silent walk, it’s safe to say I was not on my game for the remainder of our meeting.

First impressions are crucial to a successful interview and creating that positive relationship with your candidate. You are not only representing yourself, but also the business you work for. Your should present confidence and pride in your appearance as well as demonstrate a level of respect for your candidate and the meeting that is taking place. Never forget what it’s like to be a job seeker and how stressful and daunting this process can be. Remember the impact of your first impression.