Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The First Impressions

Here you are after weeks of pounding the pavement; you got the call for the interview. Made it on-time, checked in at the front desk and are sitting in waiting area for the hiring manager. Freshly showered, your shirt is ironed, you have two copies of your resume and you are ready to make that all important first impression.

The manager arrives, the introductions are made and you hold out your hand for the shake. You pull it off perfectly, a good strong hand shake with some eye contact and wammo, the hiring manager gives you the big smile. You know you nailed it, the perfect ten of first impressions. Wait a minute, let us rewind a bit.

Was that really the first impression; probably not. When it comes to the interview and hiring process there are often several first impressions involved and many people overlook those, focusing only on the impression they make with the hiring manger or the person interviewing them.

Your very first impression is usually your resume and cover letter. If you got a call for an interview you can assume that was a good impression. Then there is the call to set up the interview. Sometimes this will be done by the person conducting the interview, often it is an HR person, a receptions, assistant or some other person. As an HR person it has always amazed me how when I call to set up interviews, once the candidate realizes I won’t be conducting it, their demeanor and attitude changes. I always give feedback to the interviewer about how the person was when I talked to them on the phone.

This first phone impression can also be damaged by the candidates’ selection of ring-back tone. I have called candidates before to set up an interview and heard ring-back tones with racial epithets, cursing, demeaning depictions or women and other disturbing themes. Usually when I get one of these ring-back tones, I hang up and never schedule the interview. If the candidate doesn’t answer, sometimes the voicemail announcement makes a bad impression and I end up not leaving a message and moving that resume to the no pile.

After the phone impression you have the receptionists or greeters impression. I know you will always be on your best behavior with the interviewer; you are more likely to be more yourself with the person at the front desk that you know is not interviewing you. That means that after I interview I go to the person at the front desk and ask what they thought of you.

There have been a couple occasions when I worked in small offices and was covering the front desk while that person was on break and had an interview set up. There was one very memorable time when my interview arrived, not knowing that I was covering for my receptionist, the interviewee went on to complain about the parking lot, our building and in general showed his demeanor to be that of a rude bully. When I introduced myself, he realized his gaff, but it was too late.

When you are looking for a job, remember that you are making many very important first impressions, so always be on your toes.

No comments: