Talent Acquisition

First Impressions — Is There a Second Chance?

(And Oy! – that applies to hiring clients as well as candidates!)

I often wonder what people think of me when they meet me for the first time. Do they make an instant judgment of 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 to them, the one that I would want them to have of me?

Candidate checklist:

Within a recruitment context, we often talk about creating the right 1st impression in an interview, don’t we? Here’s the checklist for “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 strong handshake.
  • Good, regular eye contact – not too much but not too little either.
  • 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 create small talk to soften the atmosphere.
  • Do all the above whilst 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 that meets and greets you 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 a good 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 own essential checklist too:

Client checklist:

Here is the checklist for a “good 1st impression” for the hiring client:

  • Make sure the exterior and reception area of your office is neat, clean, and welcoming.
  • Ideally, have on a coffee table some literature and even awards/testimonials on show to start the grooming process for the candidate! Your chance to allow a candidate to window shop, before you have even 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, strong 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 turns out to be your next best hire, you need to convince them that 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 of a first impression? I personally don’t think so. I think that recruiters are naturally instinctive and so can see through whether it is likely to be nerves as opposed to something else.

So remember that each and every time you meet someone. What is the 1st impression you want someone to have on you? Remember the checklists each and every time you meet anyone (as the list is not exclusive to a recruitment scenario – it can apply to client meetings too!)

By Lysha Holmes

Lysha Holmes is founding director of Qui Recruitment established in 2005 to completely challenge the traditionally poorly perceived service offered by other Rec 2 Rec providers. Lysha as Qui Recruitment is dedicated to representing the best talent to the best suited roles, focussing on placing recruiters of all levels in a candidate led service across the NW.