How Employers Judge You in 5 Seconds

“It only takes 3-5 seconds to make a first impression.”  (Dana May Casperson, author of Power Etiquette: What You Don’t Know Can Kill Your Career.)  During this time, the employer may decide whether or not to hire you.

Of course, once you’ve made it past the first few moments, you need to persuade them that you are the best fit for the position.  However, if you don’t make a good first impression, the interview will be over before it even begins.

Here is what employers are looking for in the first few seconds of the interview:

Appearance:  Are you neat, clean and well-groomed?  Are your papers organized and easily accessible? Is your clothing appropriate for the job for which you are applying?  When in doubt, choose an outfit with some flexibility (for example: a formal jacket that can be removed if necessary.)

Confidence:  Employers are looking for candidates who are confident without being arrogant.  Confidence can be demonstrated in a variety of ways:

Introduction:  When you walk into the room, smile, shake hands, and introduce yourself to everyone.  Don’t be meek.  Let your confidence shine through.  If you don’t feel confident- fake it.

Handshake:  Shake everyone’s hand firmly, but don’t crush them.

Eye Contact:  Be sure to maintain eye contact with all of the interviewers.  Eye contact is seen as a sign of both confidence and honesty.

Smile:  Smile when you meet people and whenever it is appropriate.  Smiling makes you appear confident and helps you connect with your interviewers.

Unscripted Moments:  Employers love to observe and evaluate you when you have no idea that you are being watched.  Some examples of those unscripted moments are walking into the building, riding on the elevator, and waiting in the front office.  Many employers pay more attention to how you conduct yourself when you don’t know that you are being evaluated because you are more likely to reveal your true character.

You can`t get the job in the first few seconds of an interview, but you can certainly lose it.  If you are careful to make a good first impression, you will lay the foundations and ensure yourself the opportunity to sell the employer on your skills and abilities.

(Written by Karen Bivand)



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