First impressions crucial in job hunt

Jocelyn Robinson

It’s only five seconds, but it can make or break any interview. It’s the point where the applicant meets a potential employer for the first time.

These five seconds are the most crucial, said Career Services Center Associate Director Carol White.

But in the world of resum?s, cover letters and job interviews, many applicants forget these important first impressions when searching for a job.

White said demeanor, attitude and dress first catch interviewer’s attention.

“All of those things come into play at first glance at a candidate by an interviewer,” White said. “So (first impressions) are pretty important.”

A candidate appearnace gives the interviewer an idea of how much pride and respect a candidate has for themselves, said Kristen Hennis, human resources specialist at The Medical Center.

“If they don’t take pride in their own appearance, they won’t take pride in their work,” Hennis said. “If they take the job more seriously, they will do better.”

In some areas of the job market, the first impression carries more weight than in other areas. Some businesses hire from a large pool of candidates who all have similar backgrounds in education and job experience.

“A first impression can cause someone to stand out against someone else,” Hennis said.

Joshua Price, a senior from Burke, Va., thinks that while experience and job abilities go a long way, a prospective employer won’t consider those skills unless the candidate creates the impression that they’re qualified.

“The approach you take when you first meet shows the approach you’ll take to the job,” Price said. “If you try to dress for the profession, it shows how serious you take the job, the interview, etc. If you look like a joke, you’re not going to be given the time of day.”

In addition to a clean appearance and proper attire, attitude is also a major factor, White said.

“A positive attitude shows you’re willing to work hard to succeed and help your organization,” White said.

Preparation can also help make a good first impression. Researching the company and becoming familiar with it is important, said Donna Kirwan, a business and professional speaking professor.

Ivy Roberson, employment services manager at Western, said that knowledge of the job also gives a good first impression.

“They should know a little about the job they’re applying for, whether it’s a business position or a facilities management position,” Roberson said.

Applicants should also remember to make good eye contact and give a firm handshake to interviewers. It shows self-confidence and trustworthiness of a candidate.

Most interviewers understand that candidates will be nervous, although Kirwan said there are ways to help shake interview jitters.

“Do a lot of preparation and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing,” she said. “But most importantly, just be yourself.”