“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” (Forbes, 2014), a quote often attributed to Will Rogers, is a clever summary of the importance of making a good first impression. Most of the time we forget the power of making a good first impression and the role it plays in our daily lives. The impression we get the first time we meet a new coworker or acquaintance immediately influences how we treat them. “Just three seconds are sufficient to make a conclusion about fresh acquaintances” (Flora, 2004). Not much can be spoken in three seconds, so our nonverbal cues during a first meeting are exceedingly important.
A bad first impression can be difficult to overcome. It takes time and effort to convince someone, like your potential boss, that you are not as unfriendly, frazzled, or frustrated as you first seemed, and he might not care that you were having a bad day before your interview with him. Vanessa Van Petten (2011) spells out five ways to help make your first impression great. First is to set an intention. Before a deliberate first meeting, make up your mind about how you want to act and what impression you want to put forth. Second is to think about what you are wearing. She points out that it is not only what you say, but also how you look. Third is to be conscious of your body language. Body language is usually subconscious, but by thinking about every move, you can control what you are saying non-verbally. Her fourth point is to avoid bad days. This does not mean you cannot have a bad day, but try to avoid making first impressions on those bad days. If that is not possible, try to boost your mood prior to the meeting. Last, she points to the need to be interested and interesting. If you show that you are interested in the other person, they will see that and be more receptive of you. The more interesting you can be, the easier it will be to hold meaningful conversations. Of course, this list is not all-inclusive, but they are some very strong points to take into consideration when attempting to make a lasting good impression.
On his website, Don Clark (2010) puts forth two short stories about “John.” These short descriptions can show us how much we tend to assume about someone, even from just a few sentences about him.
The initial impression we get of the first story’s John might be that he is very outgoing and friendly. He is obviously having a good day and the people around him are...