Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tips on How to Make a Good First Impression

You heard it before and you have come to accept the following truism to hold in both your professional and private life. “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” The question now becomes, “How can I use this information and successfully apply its wisdom to my job search?”

It takes just a quick glance for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this short time, the other person forms opinions about you based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanour, your mannerisms, and how you are dressed. Making a good first impression is extremely important, for it sets the tone for the rest of the relationship that follows.
  1. Be on time - The person you are meeting for the first time is not interested in your “good excuse” for running late. Being late is rude, inconsiderate gives the impression that your time is far more valuable than the time of the person you are meeting. You should always plan to arrive a few minutes early. HINT: When calculating your travel time, add at least 50% more time to deal with delays in traffic or making the wrong turn. If you are still unsure, try making a ‘dry run’ trip to the destination beforehand.
  2. Be yourself - Know that if you are feeling uncomfortable and on edge, it will have a direct impact upon the person you are meeting. Feeling ill at ease is likely to make the other person ill at ease as well. If you are calm and confident, so too, will the person you are meeting.
  3. Be aware of your body language - Use your body language to project appropriate confidence and self-assurance. Stand tall, smile, make eye contact, greet with a firm handshake. All of this will help you project confidence and encourage both you and the other person feel better at ease. Know that there is also a fine line between having a ‘air of confidence’ and being intimidating. If you find that the person you are meeting is moving away from you i.e. stepping backward or re-positioning themselves so that they on an angle, this is a sign that they believe you to be overpowering and they are likely to withdraw or become resistant to ‘connecting’ with you
  4. Present yourself appropriately - Physical appearance matters. Consider the way you dress. Are you dressed appropriately for the meeting? A clean and tidy appearance is appropriate for all business and social occasions. A good haircut or shave is worth the money and so is a good manicure. Clean and tidy clothes and shoes are also necessary. Dressing appropriately is as important as good grooming. A clean and tidy appearance is appropriate for both business and social occasions. Get a good haircut and use fragrance sparingly. Your fragrance should not arrive before you so, nor should your fragrance linger long after you are gone. HINT: When choosing a fragrance, it is critical that you apply it to your skin, wait several minutes and then smell it to form an opinion of whether or not to make the purchase. Fragrances will smell different on everyone and just because a fragrance smells good on the cardboard sample, or your friend, does not mean it will smell good on you.
  5. Smile! - A warm and confident smile will put both you and the other person at ease. Make sure that your teeth are brushed and that you take the time to take a breath mint before the interview begins. HINT: If someone offers you a breath mint, always take it; it is his or her polite way of telling you that you need one.
  6. Be open and confident - Use your body language to project appropriate confidence and self-assurance. Stand tall, make eye contact.
  7. Greet everyone with a firm handshake - Give the same handshake regardless of gender. No one welcomes a limp handshake. Look the other person straight in the eye and smile as you shake their hands. Men can make their handshake memorable by spreading their fingers out slightly. This will make their hand seem larger and will give more strength to the grip.
  8. Be aware of your nervous habits - Try to keep your nervous habits in check. Controlling a nervous jitter or a nervous laugh will give you more confidence and help the other person feel at ease. If you suffer from sweaty palms, try putting antiperspirant on your palms as part of your pre-interview ritual.
  9. Small talk goes a long way - Conversations are based on verbal give and take. If the opportunity presents itself, take a few minutes to learn something about the person you are meeting. If you can identify things in common with your interview, you will be able to ‘sell’ your skills, talents and suitability for the job better than the other candidates will.
  10. Be positive - Your attitude shows through in everything you do. Project a positive attitude, even in the face of criticism or in the case of nervousness. Strive to learn from your meeting and to contribute appropriately, maintaining an upbeat manner and a smile.
  11. Be courteous - Good manners and polite behaviour help make a good first impression; anything less can ruin the one chance you have at making that first impression. So always, be on your best behaviour! Your best behaviour should always extend to everyone in the office including the receptionist.
  12. Be a good listener - Don't be afraid to nod your head and chime in with the occasional "I see" or "I understand," or any other verbal cue that shows the other person that you are indeed listening attentively. Also, feel free to ask questions (preferably non-threatening ones) if you are unsure of what the other person is trying to communicate.
  13. Do not interrupt when someone else is speaking - Interrupting someone in mid-sentence is extremely rude and will count as one strike against you in just about any social setting. Proper etiquette is suggested at all times.
  14. Turn off your mobile phone - Your new acquaintance deserves 100% of your attention.
  15. Repeat the name if the interviewer - This will make them know you paid attention and will help you remember their name. Say your own name clearly and proudly. Don’t forget to tell the other person you are pleased to meet them.
  16. Speak clearly - Be sure to communicate clearly with the people you are meeting. Few things are more annoying than having to listen to someone without understanding what they are saying because they garble their words. Focus on speaking at a moderate pace with a well-modulated voice. Do not be afraid to enunciate properly.
  17. Use proper grammar when speaking - Avoid using slang. Know that ff people cannot comprehend what you are saying, you will never make it to the short list of candidates.
  18. Avoid jokes - Although a light crack or simple joke can do wonders to lighten the atmosphere and set the mood, if you are not careful, the effect will be the opposite. You don't want to be remembered as offensive in any way.
  19. Let the other person be the centre of attention - The worst mistake you can make is talking incessantly about yourself. You don’t want to come off as a selfish person who is only interested in himself, rather than appearing as someone who could help others further their business.

Can you think of other tips?