We all must have heard the famous phrases ‘First impressions last……..’, or ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression.’ This is nothing but the truth as first impressions very frequently become lasting ones.

While there are hundreds of articles that focus on creating a positive ‘First Impression’ as an Interviewee and acing that interview, how many of us have come away from an interview absolutely unsure about an Organisation and if you are doing the right thing by even considering being a part of it? How many of us have walked into an interview room, anxious, excited, motivated and energised and within the first few seconds/minutes felt drained of all that positive energy? Does that sound familiar to you? I am sure all of us have been there sometime, somewhere. I have personally been there many a time in my career of over 12 years in the corporate world.

‘First Impressions’ are what you get of the Organisation as you wait in the reception area to go in for an interview. How were you greeted at the reception? What is the ambience of the seating area? Is it neat and tidy or does it take you straight to a leaf out of Sleeping Beauty’s storybook, cobwebs, dusty, outdated magazines and the works? Was the lady at the reception well turned out, dressed appropriately or was she in jeans and an ill fitted tee? Was she professional in the way she conducted herself with you, the employees or the other visitors? Or was she loud, chomping away to glory from her lunch box or shouting from her desk to the office boy for a cup of tea or maybe a photocopy…. ‘Ramesh Bhaiyya….ek cup coffee dena!!”

How long were you made to wait? It does speak volumes not only about the person you are waiting to meet but also about the Organisation.  When you finally make it to the interview room, what was it that impressed you or failed to do so? What was your first impression you got of who could be your potential employer, leader or coach, in the first few seconds of meeting him/her face to face? How did he/she make you feel?

I remember a Skype interview with one of the senior most members of an esteemed organisation. Firstly, the time allocated for the interview was delayed by more than an hour, which meant I had to be on my toes and ready to pick up the call anytime, therefore the other commitments lined up for later that day had to be readjusted or postponed. By the end of an hour and half, some of my enthusiasm had already waned. I was still hopeful that the interview would turn things around but somewhere that little bit of damage was already done. When I finally went on Skype and sat facing the gentleman, he came on the screen rubbing his eyes, running his fingers through his hair and yawning! What was that?? He then apologised for the delay and for having kept me waiting. He also informed that it had been a very busy day for him with back to back meetings. Ok, some brownie points there! But the interview that followed was nothing short of a disaster, as the gentleman was so tired and sleepy that he was yawning after every few words. As we know, yawning can be very contagious, I myself was beginning to feel drained and fervently fighting the urge to yawn!! I was glad when I finally got off that call!! I just had to plonk my head on the desk and take a few minutes to get back to normalcy.  I did not feel energised and enthusiastic enough to be associated with the Organisation, therefore, politely declined the offer when I got it.  So there you go!!

While anything and everything on the table can always be debated and discussed, I guess all my readers would agree to the fact that – it’s not always that the Interviewee cracks the job/assignment, but also, many a times he/she declines the offer too. Is it only because of the monetary aspect- from my experience- not true always!!

I want to focus here on, ‘What to expect from the Interviewer, especially if it’s as important as a job interview.’ And here are a few pennies on the aforementioned subject:

  1. The Front Desk

A receptionist is quite often the first person that a candidate, customer or client interacts with when making contact with an organisation. They are the face and voice of the company and their customer service ethics can be any organisation’s greatest asset.

How would you feel if you were greeted by a receptionist with a smile as you walk in to the lobby which is neat, clean and tastefully done up? The candidate/ customer feels more at ease and comfortable.

  1. The Interview : Punctuality

Making an applicant wait for an interview sends across a message of poor time management and a pompous self importance. Being ready to meet the applicant at the appointed time shows respect and sets a positive tone for the interview.

  1. The Interview: Preparedness

The interviewer should be ready with all the required documents, for example, the applicant’s resume, cover note and the questions you may want to ask. Starting to read the resume and flipping through the pages back and forth after the applicant is sitting across the table conveys that you did not think it important enough to go through the profile earlier.

  1. The Interview : Dress appropriately

It is as important for the interviewer to dress appropriately as it is for the interviewee. One should make an effort to look the part and dress according to the values of the organisation, the level you hold and the message you want to be conveyed.

  1. The Interview : Body Language

Greeting the applicant with a smile and a firm handshake is a positive body language that is well received by the other person. Introductions and an ice breaker is essential so that the rest of the interview goes smoothly. Whether an applicant is suitable or not for the role you are interviewing for, do not convey disinterest by looking at the watch or clock time and again, stop taking notes or end the interview abruptly.

  1. The Interview : Eliminate distractions

A cell phone and a landline which rings incessantly is a distraction that is not welcome and all efforts should be made so as not to interrupt the interview, unless an emergency. It is good if you could put the cell phones on silent and direct the landline calls to the reception.

As the job market gets more competitive, the top candidates receive multiple job offers and are motivated by more than remuneration; a strong FIRST IMPRESSION helps your business stand out from the rest. As an interviewer, employer or entrepreneur, it is imperative that a positive impression is communicated to a potential employee/customer.

Signing off here! With my best wishes to all the readers who would be on both sides of the table at some point in time.

Prerna Pradhan

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