According to a study by Princeton psychologists it only takes a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face. They also discovered that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions; they just reinforce them. A scary thought when you’re about to walk into an interview!

Now interviewers may not make a hiring decision in the blink of an eye, but according to a recent survey by TotalJobs a staggering 19% of them admit to only taking one minute to decide whether they want to hire a candidate or not.

Given our natural tendency as humans to make snap decisions about another person, here’s our guide as to what you should be thinking about to counteract any negative judgement at various stages of that initial appraisal:

In the blink of an eye: appearance
Despite any outrage we may feel at being judged on our outward appearance, if you show up looking sloppy, a potential employer might interpret this as your being disorganised, or might take it as a sign that you don’t take the opportunity seriously.

Instead, aim to dress professionally and appropriately. This does not necessarily mean you have to show up in formal business attire: investigate the company culture to get a sense of the dress code and tailor your look to fit.

In the first 7 seconds: body language
Body language makes up 55% of communication, so before you open your mouth your interviewer may already be drawing some initial conclusions about you based on the firmness of your handshake, the amount of eye contact you make and any nervous gestures you might display.

To avoid being considered evasive, disconnected, or just plain rude, check your posture, avoid crossing your arms, maintain the right level of eye contact and smile.

In the first minute: attitude
Remember, a potential employer is looking to hire you as a person that they might actually have to work with so any indication of a negative attitude will probably ruin your chances from the start. However, you have many opportunities to convey your positive attitude.

From arriving on time, being courteous and friendly from the get go, relaying your enthusiasm for the role and being yourself throughout you’ll convey professionalism, positivity and confidence.

And beyond: Preparation
If you’ve thoroughly prepared for an interview it’ll show in everything you say and do; a lack of preparation will do too and will probably cost you. According to the TotalJobs survey, not showing a thorough understanding of the job you’re applying to is regarded as the biggest mistake you can make.

So make sure you do your research. Look at the company website and social media pages to learn about the overall culture, and go back to the job ad to get a full understanding of the role. Rehearse some frequently asked questions to prevent being caught off-guard.

First impressions are tricky. While many employers might rely on them, they don’t necessarily have to be well-founded. With only limited time to prove yourself during an interview you’ll want to make sure that you get it right from the get-go.

The good news is that you are entirely in charge of the image you present to your interviewer, and with a bit of practice and preparation you can ensure that each second of that first crucial minute and the ones to follow work in your favour.

Reference: Forbes; Telegraph; 4-traders; Association for Psychological Science; Abintegro22 Jun 2017

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