First Impressions

First Impressions: You’ve Got 30 Seconds To Make The Right One


Justin Timberlake’s sense of urgency is clear. He’s only got four minutes to save the world. In your job search, you won’t be that lucky. First impressions are formed in less than 30 seconds.

Related: 5 Tips For Making The Best Impression In An Interview

Psychology Today says we process small clues, everything from tone of voice to posture, and in a snap we form a larger picture in our minds. This means that hiring managers may draw conclusions, and finalize their opinions, in under a minute.

One study found that people shown 20 second video segments of job applicants formed similar opinions to hiring managers who were given 20 full minutes with the applicants. Now, that’s a snap decision.

Beyond The Boardroom

The importance of first impressions goes beyond your hiring manager. When you get the job, you’ll need to impress your co-workers, vendors, clients, and so on.

Honestly, it’s just as important in the non-work world. How long does it take you to make a yae or nay decision when you’re introduced to a potential date?

The bottom line is that you need to keep your first impression top of mind and walk into each situation prepared for your review.

The Eyes Have It

Good posture and strong eye contact are key physical attributes to think about. Dressing appropriately is always high on the list impression triggers. And good personal hygiene? We don’t need to mention that, right? Bed Head may be a great line of beauty products, but actual unwashed hair won’t cut it.

On the flip side of that, too much personal hygiene can be a bad thing. I once interviewed a job candidate whose perfume was so strong I had to keep leaving the room to get fresh air.


Take a deep breath. We’ve all seen people who come off as stiff or even arrogant in an attempt to make a good impression. Take a breath and try to relax. The more relaxed you are, the more naturally confident you’ll appear.

Be Attentive

Ask questions and listen to the answers. Making other people feel like the center of attention is a great way to become desirable yourself. People love to talk about themselves, help them out by asking questions and listening to them attentively.

Watch Your Language

We’re judged not only by what we say, but also by how we say it. In the business world our language is viewed as a sign of intelligence, education, and culture. This doesn’t mean that being overly formal or sounding like a walking dictionary is a good thing. It’s not. But neither is sounding like you didn’t finish elementary school.

Shake On It

You hear this all the time: you’ve got to have a good handshake. Yet people still struggle with this simple act. Get it right! All the good work you’ve done can be undone in an instant if you offer a limp, clammy, or fingers only handshake. Make your handshake firm and solid. Period.

There’s an old saying you only get one chance to make a first impression. Now we know that the one chance comes and goes in an instant.

This post was originally published at an earlier date.

Related Posts

Personal Etiquette: How To Make A Good First Impression
First Impressions Are Everything: How To Succeed In Your Job Interview
9 Ways To Make The Wrong Impression On Your First Day


Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Kathy Ver Eecke

Kathy Ver Eecke, founder of Working for Wonka, is a former marketing executive who now works as a writer and speaker on the topic of surviving the start-up environment and working for an entrepreneur.


  1. Hi Kathy, These are some great tips! Thanks for sharing. Here is a similar blog post on how to create a remarkable first impression, I hope you will enjoy it. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    David Singh

  2. Kathy, I really like what you said about asking questions and listening first. I’m mildly annoyed when I go to networking events and I practice this technique and the other person does not engage in this. It leaves me with a poor impression of their communication skills.

    But, I think it really helps me a) remember people and b) be remembered favorably by others.

    • Cecilia – it’s amazing isn’t it? But lot’s of people don’t realize how one-sided their conversations skills are, even in social settings. In a network setting in particular, we should all be listening at least as much as we’re speaking. I think you’re right to have that bad taste. People who are all talk at networking events are there for the sole purpose of promoting themselves. They’re missing the point of building a network that supports each other. Move on!

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