Many career milestones can hinge upon making a great first impression. Here’s how to make sure that you seize the opportunity with zeal without spilling over into desperation.
People come to conclusions about one another pretty quickly. Psychological studies have shown that we form a sense of whether a stranger is trustworthy in less than one 10th of a second. Evidently, first impressions are important.
Many extremely important career moments can hinge on these lightning-quick impressions. Job interviews and major meetings offer a brief opportunity to advance, but only if you manage to put your best self forward.
To further add to the difficulty, you also have to strike the balance between putting your best self forward and not seeming so overeager that you alienate whomever you are trying to impress.
According to psychotherapist Atalanta Beaumont, humans can work “like a wolf pack” when in groups. “If they get a sniff of desperation, they will either ostracise the perpetrator or target them unkindly.”
So, how do you avoid seeming desperate? Firstly, you can start the meeting off well by offering a firm three-second handshake. Researchers at the University of Alabama have found that a good handshake creates the impression that you are a positive and outgoing individual.
Though they are natural when you are feeling nervous (as you understandably will be in a high-stakes, high-pressure situation), try to avoid using filler phrases such as ‘uhm’, ‘eh’ and ‘like’, as these words can undermine the confidence you’re trying to project.
‘Smile’ is advice that is so frequently offered, it almost goes without saying. Yet if you find yourself clinging to your pearly grin as a way to cement the impression of yourself as approachable, intelligent and trustworthy, you may find yourself hoisted by your own petard.
Smile, yes, but don’t allow things to devolve into you having a permanent grin affixed to your face – that kind of behaviour will see you go from ‘serious job candidate’ to ‘serial killer’ in a very short space of time.
For some more tips on creating a great first impression without seeming desperate, check out the infographic below, brought to you by On Stride.