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The Importance of First Impressions During an Interview

First impressions are made within the first 30 seconds and solidified in the first ten minutes of an interview. Since an employer typically has an opinion formed and a decision made about the candidate 10 minutes into an interview, candidates should strive to make a positive and memorable impression right from the start.

Based on a study done by Monster.co.uk, candidates are said to have just 385 seconds (a little over 6 minutes) to make a solid impression. The report establishes the most influential components of an interview, ranked by importance to employers in the hiring process. Ranked as most important is work experience, in which 36% of employers cite it as one of their top 5 decision influencers.

How to make a Good First Impression

Additional Factors that were ranked especially high across the charts include:

  • Education
  • Professional Qualifications
  • References

Regarding first impressions, the factors that ultimately shape the employer’s view of the candidate, rated highly among employers, were the candidate’s time-keeping and interview preparedness.

Additional factors that were ranked especially high by importance across the charts include:

  • Ability to make eye contact
  • Ability to make small talk
  • Personal appearance
  • Initial handshake

Of course, there are several things that candidates should absolutely avoid saying or doing that can negatively influence an employer’s decision.

 Factors that were ranked as being detrimental to an interviewer’s first impression of the candidate include:

  • Limp handshakes
  • Showing up late
  • Having no knowledge about the position or company
  • Bad smells from the candidate
  • Signs of tiredness

Although there is a good amount of pressure on the candidate to make a good impression, interviewees also consider a similar set of factors when evaluating the hiring manager and the company they are interviewing with. When an interviewee is making their first impression of the company, the recruiter or interviewer is also under scrutiny in the first 5 minutes to arrive on time, prepared, and to be relatable. These factors leading up to an interview can determine how the interviewee perceives the company and whether the candidate decides to take the job or not.

Influential factors that are notable to an interviewee:

  • How long they have to wait at reception
  • The reception’s manners and behavior
  • The room the interview takes place in
  • The interviewer’s dress code and appearance
  • How often the interviewer is checking the time, checking their phone for emails

Overall, both the candidate and the recruiter or hiring manager must be cognizant of these factors in order to make the best impression for themselves and for the company.