Work on your first impression

No matter how much preparation you do for an interview, there is still one thing that you have very little control over – the chemistry between you and a potential manager.

Mon, November 18th, 13:07


No matter how many steps you go through in an interview process, one reason you may not get the job is that the line manger just did not like you. Much of that can be made up of a bad first impression, but the good news is you can do something about this.

There are four things that someone notices within the first 30 second of you walking into the room.


No one wants to hire someone who looks like they are pessimistic or negative, so make sure to smile. Smiles are contagious and just by doing so you will have others around you smiling.

Dress sense:

Ensure you know what to wear to an interview and ask for honest feedback. In reality, your clothes should not be a talking point – they should fit right in with the company. You want your interviewer to spend their time talking about you and not about what you are wearing. If in doubt, walk into the lobby of the organisation in advance and see how others are dressed.


When I describe a wet or limp handshake to people their reaction is often one of revulsion – is that the first impression you want to make? Ensure you have a dry hand and a firm (but not knuckle-breaking) handshake.

Eye contact:

It still amazes me how many people have never been coached in maintaining eye contact. Whether nerves or lack of awareness, they can spend their time looking everywhere but at the interviewer. Ensure you maintain eye contact, particularly on first contact.

What many interviewers say is a “gut feeling” about a candidate is often one or more of the above not being as they expected, so they retain a negative view of the candidate.

Work on that first impression. You may not be able to get a job in the first 2 minutes of an interview, but you certainly can lose it.

Peter Cosgrove

The Irish Times