From as far back as I can remember, I recall being told the importance of a first impression. Back then, it was about being respectful to new teammates and portraying good sportsmanship to opposing teams. As I grew older, and high school came around, it was the first impression you had on teachers and new classmates which would affect how you were viewed in school. Now, as I make my way through college at Bryant University and get ready to make it out in the business world, I find that first impressions have become immensely more important. Whether it is new professors, networking events and career fairs or interviews, a first impression can go a long way. The phenomenon of a first impression and the factors involved are so interesting in how they can manipulate someone’s outlook on you. Even more intriguing is how one person’s view from a first impression of you could be entirely different from someone else’s first impression of you. Making a good first impression on someone not only has profound benefits on your personal life, but is also beneficial in building your career.
As a student studying the field of Human Resource Management, I wanted to tailor my learning experience to tie together and help me understand HR even more. To do so, I chose to double minor in Communications and Psychology, which I have found to be immensely beneficial in learning how people think and work According to a 2014 study at the University of York, impressions of a person’s approachability and dominance can be made within the first 100 milliseconds. Before you even have a chance to speak, the person you are meeting has already had the chance to analyze your posture and how you carry yourself, your facial expressions and how you are dressed at the time they are meeting you. First impressions are quickly formed and long lasting, the longer amount of time for the first impression, the more confident and stable the impression will be. An interviewer can have made their mind up within two seconds of seeing someone as to whether or not they want to hire them, possibly excelling their career forward or becoming another road block in the way. What first impressions come down to can be instinctual and alter our outlook on people instantaneously and that is what makes them so important. What is so interesting about these situations is that they are highly dependent on the various factors that could skew the accuracy of the impression. Some factors include age, gender, physical appearance, posture, voice, number of people present, and time allowed to process. These factors are deemed especially important within the business world especially when trying to find a job.
With a combination of learning Communications, Psychology and HR at school, I am also discovering more and more things about first impressions during my time here at MSI. Learning the breakdown of a first impression has opened my eyes to be more aware of how I present myself in a first impression situation. It is said that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. This is directly related to establishing the first impression on your interviewer because even before you speak they will analyze you. Non-verbal cues such as level of eye contact and firmness of the handshake upon greeting someone will be taken into consideration as well. Posture and tone of voice during an interview are absolutely key, they depict the level of interest one may have for the interview/job. Understanding tone of voice is important in a first impression because it will either enhance or diminish the impression someone has made already. In addition to these non-verbal cues, researching the organization and interviewer beforehand, having prepared questions and portraying confidence can all go a long way in a first impression by showing the interviewer you care about this opportunity and will go the extra mile. These extra things can help mend a sour first impression or just add onto an already positive outlook.
Being aware of these factors that come into play is so helpful, because it allows you to be able to control them and use them in your favor.
First impressions will always be important and will occur constantly throughout our lives, so what kind of first impression will you make? Being able to understand
what is in a first impression can have countless benefits whether seen or unseen. Whether you are going into an interview or one day will be conducting interviews, it is
important to be able to decipher and analyze people’s non-verbal cues in order to get the best impression you can on them. Knowing these factors and the importance of a first impression will get you far, because you don’t want your first impression to be the only impression you make.