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First impressions: How to make a good one

When it comes to professional encounters of the first kind, you’ve got less than two minutes to impress before you’re silently dismissed. Because Hiring Managers admit to knowing within the first 90 seconds if they want to proceed with your in-person application, and your well planned out answers probably won’t hit their mark if you’ve already been dismissed.

So take these first impression tips into consideration if you want to impress from the moment you meet. 

Be on time

There’s a saying along the lines of, “If you’re early, you’re on time, and if you’re on time, you’re late.”‘ Punctuality is a given, but you don’t want to arrive too early. Charles Liikson, a Technical Recruiter with Procom advises, “Parking/transit is unpredictable. I suggest arriving in the area of the interview 20 minutes prior to the start time and checking in with reception or security 10 minutes prior to the interview.”

Be nice to reception

Regardless of where you land on the professional totem pole, simple pleasantries go a long way. And the secret about receptionists is: They know a lot of the people who work there, and they do a lot more than just receive you upon entry. “You may be in a senior level position and looking to meet with a senior level executive, but if you’re impatient or rude with front office, it’s a high possibility the negative behavior will be recounted far beyond the reception area,” agrees Malvina Przybylak, a Procom Receptionist.

Put down your phone

Information is available in the palm of your hand, and when you’re waiting in reception, it’s tempting to take out your phone for a research refresh. But as far as the interviewer knows, you could be more interested in Instagram than their company website. Instead, put the phone down (on vibrate) and pick up any company literature they have in the waiting area. Doing so will demonstrate your interest in their business rather than being potentially distracted by what’s on your phone. Similarly, when you’re in your meeting, keep it in your briefcase or purse. Melissa Bieth, a Technical Recruiter with Procom agrees, “When you show appreciation to your interviewer(s) for taking the time to meet with you, it shows you’re serious about your job search.” 

Dress to impress

First things first – are you angling for a position at a start-up or a corporate company? The type of business you’re applying to will affect the business of choosing your outfit. Put your best foot forward by knowing the company’s culture first. Check its website and social media profiles for an indication of the dress code, and then dress one notch above everyone else. 

Make the first move

When you’re invited in for an interview, its easy to assume the Hiring Manager will make the first move when it comes to handshake introductions. However, don’t be timid to extend your hand first. Doing so will demonstrate you’re enthusiastic and confident. 


Finding work can be a serious business, but you should appear open and friendly when meeting a potential employer. Because when 38% of Hiring Managers admit to dismissing candidates who didn’t smile or show confidence, flashing your pearly whites trumps a contemplative or pensive frown. 

Get a grip

Confidence is key, and a firm handshake is a strong indication of being self-assured. “Make sure you’re making eye contact and offer a firm grip when you first meet the interviewer,” says Charles. “But take into consideration that a punishing handshake is just as frowned up as a weak one.”

Set the stage

After you’ve made it past the initial intake, it’s time to make a connection. It doesn’t have to be something big, just a little conversation starter that will help set the vibe. For instance, he or she will likely begin by making small talk about your commute into the office (it’s typical human behaviour). And this may uncover that you both live in the same area or take a similar route.  Isn’t construction the worst on King Street right now?!  Or, hopefully your pre-interview research helped you uncover other commonalities. Maybe LinkedIn informed you that the Hiring Manager attended the same college or university as you…. GO GATORS! ( Do you see where we’re going here?)

The thing about tips is that it’s never a guarantee that they’ll be used. But if you do take these ones into consideration, you can ensure you’ll leave the type of impression that leads to employment. 

Are you working with a staffing agency to find your next great opportunity?




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First impressions: How to make a good one

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