“People use their cognitive structures or mental schemas to complete the little information they have about someone they are forming an impression of, and to make it consistent.” (Hamilton et al., 1980).
Studies show that we only take 7 seconds to create an impression about someone we’ve just met, and even if there are a lot of sources from where we can get the information we need, the “biggest slice” comes from our corporal language and non-verbal behavior. Actually, the words we say only matter 7% in the creation of the impression as an all.
Moreover, according to the Halo Effect, the impression we make about a person regarding a particular characteristic can, and will, influence the overall appreciation we make of that person. So basically, we tend to think of people in a positive or in a negative way as an all, not in separated positive or negative dimensions.
Isn’t it impressive?
And the most “scary” part is, that most of the time, we don’t even get a notion about the corporal or involuntary actions/behaviors we have, and it can influence the way others see us and the information we are trying to pass.
So how can we try to control this process to our own benefit and in which situations should we apply it?
Interviews are definitely situations where we want to create a good first impression, so here are some tips to make sure that your involuntary self presents you in the best way possible when the situation demands:
- It’s time to impress: Show up on time! Showing up late will allow the recruiter to see you as unreliable, unorganized and someone who does not respect their time. What a terrible way to start introducing yourself to someone else!
- Dress for the occasion: The interviewers will see you before they hear you, gain points before opening your mouth. Even in an involuntary way, we are pretty good at judging “the book by its cover”, make sure that you take care of yours.
- Do not avoid eye contact: You want to pass a confident and sincere impression, look into the recruiter’s eyes! People who avoid eye contact are perceived as being more anxious and less trustworthy. The ones who don’t, give the impression of being surer of themselves and more intelligent.
- Perfect your handshake: Presenting a weak handshake will tend to let others perceive you as being shy, anxious, unconfident or uninterested.
- Put your phone away: You will not need this kind of distractions. Focus on creating a connection and keep your phone in your bag or pocket, in the silence mode. Even just the act of having your phone on the desk shows disinterest.
- Avoid distracting habits: Snapping your fingers, tapping your feet, drumming your pen on the desk, playing with your hair = Anxiety, impatience, and irritation.
- Cultural research: If you are applying for a job out of your country or for a company with a different culture than yours, then do not forget to make a quick cultural research.
Simple habits as putting your hands on the table and holding them tight are considered extremely rude in Japan or in India, you will give the impression that you want to control them.
- Create empathy: Be well humored, polite and positive with the receptionist and everyone you find in your way before the interview. You never know who you are talking to, and everyone deserves your respect.
Invest time knowing yourself and developing good behavior and body language. After all, never forget, you will not have a second chance to create a first impression! 🙂