Making a first impression is a part of everyone’s daily life. It takes a quick glance for people to evaluate one another when they meet for the first time. This is heavily based on appearance, body language, demeanour, mannerisms and how one is dressed. This opinion formed may be irreversible unless given the opportunity and benefit of the doubt.
A recent statistics reflects the unemployment of fresh graduates and the cautiousness of employers in their hiring process. This is a critical issue growing in the society. To prevent further growth in unemployment rate, it is advisable for candidates to perform well during interviews by portraying positive first impression. It is also mentioned in Brian Tracy International that clothing is responsible for 95 percent of the first impression that someone can make as it covers 95 percent of one’s body. It is ultimately how one presents him/herself that will eventually affect the course of the relationship between him/her and the other party.
The objective of this study is dive deeper into understanding the specific importance of making a first impression. The team is also limiting it to a setting at a workplace interview. It will serve as a guide for university students to follow up when they graduate or/and interviewing for a job.
- Research Method
The team analysis will be referenced and based on both primary and secondary research data to support our judgements and findings with regards to creating positive first impressions during job interviews.
- Primary research
An unstructured interview will be used as primary research as it allows respondents to express their views freely. The team conducted an interview with Ms Janice Lim who is a Recruitment Consultant from Recruit Express. With more than 3 years of experience in the recruitment firm, she has interviewed candidates for a variety of jobs from different industry and witnessed many types of interview behaviours of prospective employees.
During the interview, Janice constantly emphasize the importance of having positive first impression and how it relates to higher possibilities of job offers. She adds that a candidate who portray a good attitude and positive nonverbal gestures during job screenings or interviews, stands a higher chance of securing a position. Recruiters who developed good impression on their candidates, they may help to add words of affirmation to their clients. Having to recruit and interview different people on a daily basis, Janice shared with the team about one of her encounter with a lady who is applying for a business admin position.
The lady had a pleasant voice when Janice confirmed the interview details over the phone. However, the positive impression did not last as she came to the interview in a sleeveless top, revealing a tattoo-filled arm. A word of advice from the experienced recruiter is to portray a constant positive impression and dressed appropriately for the interview. In the event where the candidate have visible tattoo on them, it is advised to cover with an outer coat or long sleeve attire. Janice concluded by highlighting the highly neglected dress code and physical look is one of the determinant factor for success during interviews.
- Secondary Research
This research was also supported by articles and findings on various websites. The information collected were reliable as they were published on popular news engine and recruitment firms. Monster, a worldwide recruitment platform, highlighted that the first impression impacts the way interviewers judge the candidate for a period of time. The judgment will be magnified especially during interviews since it is a significant activity for employers to select the most suitable employees for their organization.
According to an article written by the professional training and development speaker Brian Tracy, a survey was done on a group of hiring managers and three-quarter of the managers agreed that the first impressions are critical in determining the success of job interviews. The managers usually make their hiring decision during the first 30 seconds of the job interview. Therefore, candidates should be highly aware of their gestures during the first meeting with employers as it can either make or break the decision of employers.
- Problem Identification
Of all the different situation where first impression impacts the individual, the team decided to address and emphasize on first impression during job interviews. This is a relevant situation as job interviews will be a gateway for anyone who wants to be part of an organization.
- Unprofessional Dress Codes for Interviews
The most unsightly scene for an interviewer would be meeting an unprofessionally dressed candidate. This candidate may turn up in a casual blouse and three-quarter pants. This image reflect badly on the candidate and can be implied as uninterested for the position. The way a candidate dress determines their personality and sincerity. As mentioned previously, 95 percent of first impressions are created by the dress codes.
- Behaviours at the Holding Area
Behaviours and posture are ways of communications without words yet they have strong relationship affecting the other party’s perception of an individual. Rowdy and over-reactive behaviours as well as poor postures might be deemed as unacceptable when a candidate is attending a professional interview. For instance, a female candidate was slouching and consuming snacks at the holding area. This gives a negative impression to employers or future colleagues, showing her insincerity for the interview.
- Behaviours during Interview
The interview is the most crucial moment for a candidate. The interviewers will usually observe the candidate from the moment he/she enters the room and the interactions following through. Some candidates would trudge into the interview room and take a seat without offering a handshake. Canada largest career portal, Workopolis, also highlighted that a nervous facial expression or unclear thoughts can ruin the interview. Interviewers may perceive the candidate to have lack of preparation.
Candidates are expected to be expressive and provide detailed and professional response during the interview. Interviews usually comprises of a handful of challenging scenarios for candidates to assess their analytical and problem-solving skills. In some cases, a candidate may provide sub-standard response without answering the questions or analyse the problems. Interviewers may get irritated when insincere candidates do not take interviews seriously.
- Behaviours at the end of interview
Following the end of the interview, candidates are expected to pose relevant questions or expressing their interest to the interviewers. However, some candidates might ask irrelevant questions and exit the interview without proper farewell and handshake. Therefore, it is crucial to end the interview in the right note, providing a firm handshake and attempt to follow-up with the interviewer.
- Solution: Guide to create positive first impression
This section provides a series of solutions which will be put in action in the team’s training video guide. The aim is to guide all potential candidates on the ways to portray good impression during job interviews.
It is important to dress in a conservative manner but that does not mean dressing in a boring manner. “Don’t think so fashionable, think more conservative,” Tomazin says. Candidates should stick with the basics with matching colours. It is crucial to avoid wearing extremely tight or revealing outfit for interviews. According to Workopolis, candidates are advised to dress appropriately to suit the company and the job applied. As for footwear, candidates have to avoid sandals or open-toe wear.
Candidates should avoid fancy hairstyles for their job interviews. Based on The Balance article relating to hairstyles for interview, the author mentioned that there are different ways to style the hair professionally. However, the hairstyle should match with outfit and makeup. Generally, the type of hairstyle adopted should look professional and suitable for the candidate.
Personality and Gestures
Prior to the interview, the candidate should portray pleasant personality and friendliness to the employees. Though they are in the waiting area, the postures and behaviours may be seen by prospective colleagues and even employers. As this area is often neglected by the candidates, it is therefore important to include in the training video to highlight the importance.
- During the interview
This is the most crucial part of the whole interview process as the candidates meets their prospective employers for the first time. It is extremely important that the candidate express passion and sincerity during this process. According to Kelly Services, they mentioned that its takes three to five minutes to form an impression during the interview. Some employers will scrutinize the candidate the moment they enter the room.
The employers will be observing both the verbal and non-verbal actions of the candidate. In some cases, the candidates might receive challenging questions or sarcastic remarks from the employers. They have to maintain professionalism and respond appropriately. Due to importance of this section, a tutorial will be showcased in the training guide.
- End of the interview
This is the part where candidates often ignore its importance. The impression forged during the interview may make a break at this point due to reasons such as lack of firm handshake and showing appreciation for the interview opportunity. According to guidelines of Huffington Post, candidates are highly encouraged to post job-related questions to the interview or state their interest once again and most importantly, to send an appreciation email to the interviewers.
- Benefits: How first impression is crucial in our success
Creating positive first impression is highly crucial because “First impressions really are the most important, according to new research showing that the opinions we form in the first few minutes after meeting someone play a major role in determining the course of the relationship.” (DYE, 2004)
Positive first impression during a job interview will increase the likelihood for the applicant to clinch the job offer. This is true as supported by Direct Tutor’s article on “Making A Good First Impression” that interviewers may relate to the candidate better once positive impressions are formed.
By portray positive impressions, the individual might gain boost in their self-confidence level as they adopt a positive mind set. Additionally, the first impression imprinted on a person’s mind will shape the course of the relationship, which is important. This means that employers or colleagues who developed an impression previously, would expect similar personality of the candidate at workplace. When such expectations are met, candidates may develop more confidence and job satisfaction increases. As such, those first critical minutes are crucial.
In conclusion, creating positive first impressions are crucial in everyday life especially during job interviews as the benefits from the first impressions formed will go a long way for the candidate. It is therefore critical for university undergraduates to build on their strengths before entering the society for job hunts.