First impressions happen quickly, usually in a matter of seconds and even before you say the word “hello.” And those first impressions tell people a little about who you are. The first few moments of a meeting identify whether you’re trustworthy, charismatic, intelligent, or on an upward leadership trajectory.
Of course, first impressions aren’t everything. People change their minds when they get better information. So the first few seconds of your interview shouldn’t define the half-hour conversation. But it would help if you kept those first few seconds in mind when you plan for your interview.
How can you make an accurate first impression? You can use these four science-backed tips to get started.
The clothes don’t make the person, but they do spark a positive first impression. One Canadian study found that people who dressed in business attire believed the wearer was a competent worker on an upward trajectory to their next promotion.
Our advice? Find one great interview outfit that allows you to dress for the job you want. Then, move on to tip #2!
A well-fitted interview outfit can elevate your interviewer’s first impression of you. In one study from 2013, participants looked at photos of men in suits and decided which subjects looked more successful. They almost always chose the men with tailored suits.
You don’t need a custom suit or bespoke outfit to go to an interview. Instead, take the outfit that makes you feel most confident and head over to a tailor or clothing alteration business to make a few easy adjustments and find the best fit.
Making eye contact early and naturally can communicate that you’re a smart communicator! A 2007 study found that something as simple as eye contact makes others believe you are intelligent.
For some of us, making eye contact with strangers is easier said than done, especially after a year of minimizing social contacts. The best thing you can do is go out and practice. Make eye contact with the Starbucks cashier, say hello to neighbors you don’t know, and put in more effort to make eye contact on Zoom or video calls.
Open body language tells others that you are powerful and occupying a space you deserve to be in. Standing or sitting up straight, moving your shoulder blades down your body, and slowing your breathing not only help you feel relaxed but project the right image to those around you.
First impressions happen in the blink of an eye, but you can help people form better impressions of you by projecting the strong, intelligent person you know you are. Then, your interview’s first impression and second impression will be more closely aligned, giving them a fuller picture of why you could be a good fit for the job.
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