The Mistakes That are Killing Your First Impression

Originally posted 26 May 2017 By Lindsey Pollak

“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.”

It’s one of the most clichéd pieces of advice. That’s because it’s true — especially if you are job hunting.

Research shows that recruiters typically only give your resume a six-second glance, and some people say the first seven seconds of meeting someone are the most important, so you don’t want to squander that initial chance to shine in person, on paper or online.

Here are some common ways job hunters undermine that crucial first impression — and how to avoid them:

Minimizing the Importance of Small Talk

“As you make your way to the interview space, the light conversation you exchange is a great opportunity to develop rapport. In an interview, there is no such thing as small talk. If the interviewer asks about upcoming weekend plans, talk about a hobby or personal interest of yours that you pursue in your free time. You might not have specific plans for those interests this weekend, but you don’t have to answer this question so literally. Don’t talk about errands to run, and certainly don’t say you have no plans! People want to work with people they like, and small talk is an opportunity to be sociable and therefore more likeable.” — Read more at Forbes.com.

Dissing the Receptionist

“The person at the front desk may not be the hiring manager—but that doesn’t mean his or her impression of you doesn’t matter. In fact, some companies specifically ask their front desk attendants to report back on the demeanor of interviewees who come through the door. And that likely plays a role in the ultimate hiring decision—so it’s important to treat that person as well as you’ll treat your interviewer.”  — Read more at The Muse.

Not Paying Attention to Your Non-Verbal Communication

“Rob Riker, the founder of the Social Winner blog, says confident body language does more than make you look good — it helps you make a great first impression. To do this, Riker suggests suggests having a firm handshake, standing up straight, and maintaining eye contact both while listening and speaking.” — Read more at Business Insider.

Forgetting That the “Eyes” Have it

“It’s imperative to making a strong connection — but how much is too much? Here are three ways to perfect your gaze. Hold it. Eye contact during a conversation increases brain stimulation and, as a result, recall of the conversation. … But not for too long. Research shows that holding eye contact longer than three seconds without taking a break can be interpreted as aggressive, causing listeners to feel defensive and resistant to what you’re saying. And take breaks. Eye contact and word generation share cognitive resources, according to a 2016 study. That means maintaining too much eye contact can sap your brain and impact your ability to verbally respond.” — Read more at Entrepreneur.com.

Missing the Big Picture

“If I ask, for example, about your university telefund job, don’t bore me with mundane details like your donation numbers. Show me how it trained you to be the problem-solver you are today. Maybe you found yourself discouraged by the percentage of alums who hung up on you after 10 seconds, so you volunteered to revise the standard call script. In just a week or two, donations started ticking upward. Every employer wants to know they’re hiring someone who can absorb information, understand the details that matter, and can make smart decisions on their own.” — Read more at Fast Company.com.

What are some first impression hits or misses you’ve seen? Let us know in the comments below.