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You Never Get a Second Chance to Gain a First Impression

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Exercise: Self Perception


Write a one sentence descriptor of how you want to be perceived.


Factors that affect the customer’s perception


  • Your personal presentation. Grooming and how you dress creates an instant visual impact.
  • Make good eye contact throughout the meeting
  • Posture. How you sit, and how you stand conveys a non-verbal message to the customer.
  • Handshake. Subconsciously, the handshake says more about you in the first few seconds than any other gesture.
  • Facial expressions are more powerful than words. Empathy, nervousness, warmth and boredom are just some of the expressions that speak loudly to the customer.
  • Common interests. Research 3 things you may have in common and prepare how these will be introduced.
  • False compliments. In the early stages of the meeting, praising the office layout, pictures or the view etc are often perceived as desperate attempts to be liked and may hinder rapport building.

Non-Verbal Communication


We all know how important it is to say the right things in a job interview. But it's not just what you say the matters, your nonverbal communications say a lot about you before you answer a single question.


You only have a few seconds to make that first impression. How do you do that? Eye contact, body language, the quality of your voice, the tone of your voice, how you move, all of these little things work together to form an immediate impression. Interestingly, research shows, people are much more likely to rely on their first impression as the truth, even after they have spent time with the person.


So, if you make a poor first impression, even if you recover, that first impression is going to stick with your interviewer. Research also shows that communication happens through WHAT you say, HOW you say it and Body Language. With your little expressions, your eye rolls, your gestures. You may not even realise you're doing these things or how other see them, but they're a big factor in how you are perceived in a job interview.


Executive Presence


Body language can sabotage or distract from all of the wonderful things that you may be saying about yourself. You need to make sure that you're projecting confidence with your body as well as your words. Body language is particularly important as you progress in your career. It's important at every level, but as you get in to more senior roles, it's even more crucial.


You need to have that executive presence?

You need to be someone that people look up to.

You need to be someone that people listen to.

You need to be able to go out and talk to clients, and senior management, and other people that are important to the organisation. Even if you're still in the early stages of your career, it's not too early to start developing a bit of that executive presence.


Eye Contact


Eye contact may seem easy enough. We all do it many times per day. However, many candidates struggle with making natural confident eye contact in an interview, when they're nervous and distracted.


Eye contact is a particularly meaningful nonverbal form of communication. So, what does steady eye contact say about you?


Eye contact conveys confidence. Looking directly into someone's eyes says you're confident. You're confident about yourself and you're confident in your ability to do the job. Lack of eye contact can make you seem unsure or even shifty.


Eye contact conveys attention and interest, which helps you connect with your interviewer and demonstrate enthusiasm for the opportunity.


Eye contact has a very positive impact on how people remember you. If you're making eye contact with your interviewer, as you're telling a story, as you're talking about why you're interested in the job, sharing your strength, etcetera. They're much more likely to remember your words. You're more likely to standout in their memory as a good candidate.


Eye contact is a really important part of establishing a meaningful connection with someone.

When you looking to someone's eyes, it helps you to establish rapport. The goal is to keep steady, comfortable eye contact with your interviewer. That doesn't mean you have to hold eye contact for the entire time that you're speaking, too much forced eye contact, can read a little creepy. Good, natural eye contact, means establishing that contact when you first meet someone, holding it, and then consistently coming back.



Smiling also helps, because when you smile, you make your eye contact more warm, more engaging. Smiling also conveys interest, enthusiasm, and friendliness.

Sometimes, we're so focus on what we're saying and how the interviewer is responding that we forget to smile. Smiling projects confidence, even if you're not feeling it.

So, fake it until you make it. If you struggle with eye contact or have a very serious natural resting expression, it may help to practice making eye contact and smiling.



Sit up as straight and tall as you can. It conveys confidence and strength, makes you see more reliable, like someone who can be trusted. Sloughing or hunching over, says you're not taking this seriously. Also, you're taking up less space. You're not as powerful.


Watch your hands

Keep them in a natural, relaxed position. For example, if you're sitting at the table for your interview, you can keep your hands on top of the table in a natural relax way. If you're not sitting at the table, you can keep your hands on your knees or in your lap. It may take a little experimenting and practice to find what feels comfortable for you, if you're not used to feeling on display.


From a confident based position, it's fine to gesture in a natural way, especially if that's how you talk, but just be careful not to go too far so that it becomes distracting.


If you're whipping your hands around, making wild gestures, it can take the focus off of your words and even make you seem manic. Keep the gestures confident, strong, and controlled.



If you are a natural a fidgeter, during the interview you have to stifle those instincts. Rocking in a chair, jiggling your legs, or tapping your feet, can be disconcerting to an interviewer and convey nervousness. Casual and occasional shifting is fine and can keep you from seeming too rigid. Another interview don't, defensive body language.


Crossed arms


Crossed arms may conveys guarded attitude that can turn off interviewers.


Then they feel you're hiding something. You're not open.


Facial expressions

Don't make faces. This is really important. You may not even be aware that you're doing this, but some people will scowl, they'll smirk, or they'll actually look terrified and almost in pain.


Your Voice

Nervous habits can also apply your voice. Make sure that you're finding the right level to be heard and project confidence and likability. Don't be a low talker. Don't be a close talker and don't be an overly loud talker either.

Some people naturally have a very outside voice. And you want to make sure that you're not over projecting. The speed at which you talk is also something to be aware of. If you talk really fast, that can come across as nervousness and it's also hard to understand.


You want the person listening to you to hear what you're saying. Understand what you're saying and remember all of your key points. You may need to listen to yourself and analyse objectively. Most people speak more quickly when nervous, so, you may want to consciously slow it down a little bit. Remember, it's totally fine to pause, take a breath, think about a question if you need to.


A lot of people feel like in the interview the pauses seem to go on forever. But it's okay to pause. In fact, a pause can make you seem more thoughtful, like you're taking care with your answer. And if you need to take a breath, or if you get off track, it's far better to pause than to just keep racing ahead and blurting out things that you might regret. I recommend that everybody warm up their voice before an interview.


It's all about getting into interview mode, with your brain and your whole body as well as your voice. Run through a couple of practice answers with a friend before you head off to the interview. Otherwise, you risk warming up in the interview and not starting strong.


Vocal Fillers

Umm, uh, like, okay etc We all do it in our natural speech. We all have vocal fillers that we over use. Even with the great public speakers, you might find an umm, or an uh sneaks in occasionally, and it's no big deal.


The problem is when your fillers become distracting. A lot of people don't know that they're crossing that line. Are you doing it too much? Is it destructing? Hard for you to say without hearing it, so record yourself to refine and polish your answers.




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