The Underrated Truth Behind First Impressions

There is so much information going around about what makes a meeting or interview successful that sometimes we lose sight of the fundamentals.

As a former recruiter I had the opportunity to meet numerous different candidates; many of whom got the chance to be introduced to their desired employer and achieved their career goals. Some however struggled to demonstrate their ability.

But what factors influenced their performance?

Experience, skills and competence are the most obvious attributes to consider and are definitely the backbone of winning a new job, client or project. Let’s just call them PREPARATION. We all know the importance of these factors and we are working hard to demonstrate them. We go to networking events, put our resume on LinkedIn, list our achievements on social media and feel accomplished by doing our best.

But is that really it?                                           

The answer is easy: no. Regardless of the technological development and the digital boom, human beings are still lead by instinct and emotions. Whenever we meet someone new, our brain forms a mental image in less than a blink of an eye based on their physical appearance, body language and facial expression. And it all happens in our subconscious, without even realizing it! Research shows that non-verbal communication influences the outcome of a meeting notably more than anything what we say. Our brain seeks for traces of attractiveness and trustworthiness unconscientiously and evaluates the personality based on the initial observation.

In other words, the moment you walk in the door you make up your mind about the other person. And that sets the tone of the entire meeting. The initial judgments will determine the flow of the conversation, because our brain will constantly seek for confirmation to prove the FIRST IMPRESSION.

How can we ensure to project trustworthiness?

  1. Dress to impress. Appropriate clothing wins half the battle for you. When you dress for the role you strive for, you naturally upgrade your behavior. And when you feel confident your body language, posture, facial expression and voice pitch will all project the same.
  2. Smile. An honest smile can open many doors. It’s a form of welcoming and a sign of friendliness and approachability.
  3. Embrace eye contact. It shows straightforwardness and sincerity and builds up tremendous trust in just few seconds!
  4. Straighten your posture. Standing tall, pulling your shoulders back and holding your head straight are all signals of confidence and competence.
  5. Step up your hand-shake game. Adjust the firmness of your handshake to the amount of pressure you are receiving from the other person. Too firm handshakes can come across as intimidating as weak ones!
  6. Adjust your behavior. Understand the environment and align your demeanor. Improper attitude can quickly sabotage your success!
  7. Be genuine. There is nothing worse than a visibly fake smile!


The bottom line is that although FIRST IMPRESSIONS are underrated sometimes, they have much bigger influence on our decisions than we think.