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Interviewing & the Instant First Impression

By: Michelle Metzger, Staffing Assistant

Have you heard these before?

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

“It takes seven seconds to make a first impression.”

“First impressions are lasting impressions.”

With quotes like these floating around it is easy to understand how your appearance can go a long way when it comes to interviews.  If first impressions really are made in 7 seconds, then you probably won’t even have an opportunity to speak first before it’s made.


“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

Make it easier on the interviewer to imagine you in the position.  It is important to look the part for the job you wish to have.  If affordability is a concern, make sure you have the basics: dark skirt/slacks, white blouse/shirt, and conservative shoes. Footwear matters; flip-flops, tennis shoes, slippers, and Crocs are all unsuitable for the occasion.  Men: when wearing a tie, make sure it is appropriate; cartoons and silly logos are not recommended.  There are numerous resources on the internet concerning interview clothing as well as everyday professional attire.


Your clothing should not detract from the focus on you as a good candidate.  To accomplish this, your attire should fit well and modestly.  There is no excuse for dressing inappropriately, even for a younger candidate going to his/her first “adult” job interview.  Use all of the information accessible on-line and at your fingertips.  Avoid making the mistake of wearing  something too tight, too short, too revealing, or too casual.  This would be a quick way to be ruled out for the position as it would be hard to take you seriously as a professional.

Body Language

Other things that can play into that all-important first impression are more intangible in kind; this includes arrival time and body language.  Just as it is important not to be even a few minutes late, you shouldn’t be excessively early either.  Arriving too early might make the interviewer feel rushed.  A good rule of thumb is to be about 10 minutes early.  As for your body language, you need to be aware of the message you are putting out.  Your bouncing leg, tapping fingers, and watch checking will make you appear impatient.  Crossed arms, slouching, and frowning will convey a picture of disinterest.  The nonverbal cues picked up from your arrival time and body language can speak volumes to an interviewer – even without you intending to.

Final Tips

With a seemingly long list of interview faux pas, what should you do?  How do you convey yourself as a professional, confident, and qualified candidate without even speaking?

  • Dress in conservative and appropriate interview attire – do research if needed
  • Wear appropriate amounts of makeup and jewelry
  • Refrain from wearing perfume or cologne
  • Practice proper hygiene
  • Arrive 10 minutes early
  • Clasp hands in your lap or on the table – do not fidget
  • Have good posture
  • Be aware of your facial expressions