(And Oy! – that applies to hiring clients and candidates!)
I often wonder what people think of me when they meet me for the first time. Do they instantly judge me based on what I am wearing, how I am feeling that day, or the context of the meeting?
And is the impression I give them the one I would want them to have of me?
Within a recruitment context, we often talk about creating the right 1st impression in an interview, don’t we? Here’s the checklist for a “good 1st impression” for the candidate:
- A smart new suit (not shiny or too trendy), top-to-toe elegance and professionalism – immaculate hair, nails, shoes, and tie if a man.
- A good firm handshake.
- Good, regular eye contact – not too much, but not too little.
- Fresh breath – no cigarette, garlic, or wine breath allowed!
- Smile and be friendly and approachable.
- Build a rapport with the interviewer and follow their lead if they make small talk to soften the atmosphere.
- Do all the above while being ushered into a meeting room and manage to sit graciously at a desk and accept a drink if offered.
Remember also that the 1st impression you create is not just with the interviewer. It is also with the PA, Office Manager, and the colleague who meets and greets or walks past you in reception. It is the person who buzzes you in. The 1st impression you create when engaging with a new potential employer is actually plus-fold.
If you follow all of this advice and remain genuine, you will be memorable and have an excellent chance to prove why you are the right person for this business – if they turn out to be the right business for you!
But…clients! Have YOU remembered that YOU also need to create a good first impression? In candidate-driven markets (which is the case in so many sectors now, including R2R – and LONG may it last), all too often, the first impression of a company can be misguided if the interviewer hasn’t followed their essential checklist too:
Here is the checklist for a “good 1st impression” for the hiring client:
- Ensure your office’s exterior and reception area is neat, clean, and welcoming.
- Ideally, have on a coffee table some literature and even awards/testimonials on the show to start the grooming process for the candidate! Your chance to allow a candidate to window shop before you have met them!
- Whoever has greeted them needs to offer them refreshments upon arrival. Nothing worse than sitting there thirsty. Rules of hospitality apply as you would to any guest!
- You also need a good, firm handshake to be suited and booted and to follow the above checklist about demeanor, presentation, and rapport! You have a job to do too. If this candidate is your next best hire, you need to convince them they should choose you!
- Don’t turn the candidate off by starting with probing questions straight away. This is your chance to settle them and tell them all your USPs and why it’s a great company to work for.
- It is your job to make them desire your opportunity!
Do second chances exist?
And if, in both instances, you don’t follow these rules, is it possible to start again and have a second chance at a first impression? I don’t think so. I think recruiters are naturally intuitive and can see whether it will likely be nerves instead of something else.
So remember that every time you meet someone. What is the 1st impression you want someone to have on you? Remember the checklists each time you meet anyone (as the list is not exclusive to a recruitment scenario – it can apply to client meetings too!)