Make a good first impression

Make a good first impression

Exchange Street director Robert Perry takes a look at what you can do to increase the chance that your interviewer’s first impression is favourable.

1. You are slouching or assuming other powerless poses before the interview

It’s a cliché to say that first impressions count. It’s also true. “Most hiring decisions are made within the first ten seconds of an interview” says Patti Wood, a body language guru and author of numerous body language books. Fortunately, there are things you can do to increase the chance that your interviewer’s first impression is favourable.

A study by Harvard Business School found that candidates make better impressions in interviews if they spend two minutes before the event in a ‘high power pose.’ This kind of pose can involve one of two things: standing, feet apart, with your hands on your hips; or sitting on a chair with your hands behind your head and your feet up on the table. In a test researchers postulated that this was because high power poses actually produce the impression of power – they increase testosterone and they reduce stress, anxiety and production of the stress hormone cortisol. Power-posers seem calmer and collected in a subsequent interview situations as a result.

Conversely, you should not spend time before the interview in a ‘low power’ position.

2. You are failing to make enough physical contact

Although handshakes are fraught with peril, the more you shake hands with and come into physical contact with your interviewer, the greater your chance of interview success. “Physical touch is a very important piece to the interview” says Wood. “A handshake has been shown to be equivalent to three hours of face to face verbal interaction in establishing rapport. If you shake your interviewer’s hand, it will immediately make you feel more comfortable and more likable. This is very beneficial in an interview situation.”

Wood advocates multiple handshakes, especially in the interview’s ‘exit phase.’ Try shaking hands as you stand up from the table. Do it again as you go out through the door. Interesting advice!

3. You are avoiding eye contact with the interviewer

Making eye contact with the interviewer is also a good way of increasing your likelihood of success. Various studies of interviewee body language have shown that candidates who engage in eye contact are deemed more alert and assertive, more dependable, more confident, more responsible, and more creative.

You don’t need to maintain eye contact with your interviewer while you’re answering their questions. But Wood says you do need to be looking them in the eye when they’re talking. “It’s about being present and connected to the interviewer” she says. “There’s research showing that the amount of eye contact an interviewee made with the interviewer while questions were being asked is a key determinant of success.”

4. You are forgetting to smile

Smiling and head movement are proven determinants of interview success. However, fake smiling will work against you.
Best of luck in making that lasting and positive first impression.

For more guidance on how best to prepare for an interview, please contact the team at Exchange Street on 0161 9736900.