Creating first impressions
When you walk into a room, the goal is not calculative behaviour but setting the stage to your best advantage to create the right impression.
The HR executive handed me two files to conduct the final round of interviews for a marketing specialist, "In my opinion both are equally qualified," she said.
Reena's interview was scheduled first. Dressed attractively in a business suit she walked into my office with an air of confidence. She maintained great eye contact, smiled often, answered my questions with clarity and asked for the job before she left.
But I was predisposed to hire my second interviewee of the day, Rita, because she came with a recommendation of a colleague. She walked into my office without introducing herself and without extending her hand for a typical handshake. Younger than her competitor, she immediately gave me reasons to believe that age makes a huge difference. Although pleasant in her demeanour, she folded into herself, answering my questions like a high school student responding to the principal. I hired the latter.
Big mistake. As it turned out, Rita had no grasp of grammar while writing emails and supported a poor customer service attitude. This is when I realised how important first impressions were.
Take notice of the tangibles
You don't have to be good looking but that perception helps. Package your appearance to your best advantage; good grooming; clothing styles and colours to complement your body built, eyes, skin and hair colour. Know what works, what doesn't. Dress matters. Consider con artist games. Most important, dress conveys authority, a police uniform, a military uniform and a business suit. Dress always does the trick. In addition to dress, consider all accessories that complete the picture; hand bag, jewellery, writing instruments, brief cases. A bulging suitcase says," I do all the work". A slim brief case says," I assign the work". Only if you are a millionaire like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet you can wear what you please. Check your surroundings Personal presence extends from your surroundings. Consider each item in your space; coffee cups, business cards, marketing material and the like. Remember when you go for an interview you are made to wait in reception area; all these things may be taken into account. Assessment can be made about your competence by just looking at you how you conduct at the waiting area. Set the stage to engage Consider how to control perception as you move, sit stand or walk through the corridors during your inter- view. Research shows that the way people sit in a room affects whether the listener tunes in or out those speaking. Space yourself in a way that you are neither very close nor very far off from your listener. If you want to increase your presence in a group interview or discussion take a seat at the either end of the table. This would increase your presence and approachability. You are close enough to look eye to eye to gain more authority.
Increase exposure to change opinion
You may be asking, "How can I change the first impression"? Answer plays the number. Increase your presence. Whenever you have to go through series of interview, take them seriously. Make them count. Prepare. Let people see you in different environments handling new things they will look at you with different perspective.
Whenever you walk into the room assess the scene. Expect others to do the same. When people size you up. Welcome look-see. The goal is not calculated behaviour rather setting the stage to your best advantage. Set the stage and just play it right.