First impressions count.


Make a positive impact at interview by making first impressions count.


How do you think you come across at interview?

Do you walk in with confidence?

Making eye contact?

Do you give a firm handshake?


I have sat in on many interviews over the years and first impressions count. In the first few seconds when a candidate walks into the interview room the interviewer will be making a subliminal assessment of that individual and will have an impression, positive or negative - however professional they are, and however much they try to resist this instinctive reaction.

What we say with our bodies is very powerful, and candidates can increase their likelihood of success by ensuring that they give out positive non-verbal clues, as first impressions count.

Do you give a firm handshake? Check this one out with an honest friend. Too often this, the only physical contact, can give a very negative impression if the handshake is weak, overly strong – as if this is a test of strength – or damp, which often happens when people are nervous.

The major positive non-verbal communciations  cues which make first impressions count are:

  • A higher smile rate
  • Nodding the head when the interviewer is speaking
  • Leaning forward while listening and when replying
  • A high level of eye contact

All of which deliver a positive message to the interviewer that you are confident and on an equal footing - which, of course, you are.

First impressions count and body language makes the greatest impact as to your credibility, so in the interview situation it’s very important to get this aspect correct.


Sitting correctly

Sit with your bottom as far back in the chair as possible.  If you sit on the edge of the chair because you are anxious, as you relax - and professional interviewers are trained in building rapport  - you may lean back awkwardly in the chair.  

On the other hand if you are sitting relaxed and leaning back, if you are asked a difficult or challenging question you are likely to move your body to an upright position before answering. This is a dead give-away.

I have seen this happen repeatedly and as a result the interviewer would probe more deeply into the subject matter under discussion to find out exactly what the candidate is hiding.

Seating arrangements

Room layouts will vary, a comfortable layout to put the candidate at their ease will be round a table with all chairs at an equal height, or on the corner of a larger table. 

However some interview settings are devised as if in preparation for a conflict, with the chairs of the interviewer and the interviewee directly opposite one another ready for "eyeball-to-eyeball " confrontation.  This is not helpful because before you start you are forced into an unnatural situation:  if you watch people who are friends and colleagues they tend to sit more to the side than opposite each other.

In the interview you can create a more relaxed situation by turning the chair 45 degrees when invited to sit down.  


Leg positions

A "low cross" or the "athletic position" is appropriate.

High-crossed legs give the impression of defensiveness which is not appropriate.  The athletic position is where your dominant leg is brought under your chair and only the toe of your shoe is touching the floor, while your non-dominant leg is firmly planted on the floor, parallel with the direction of the chair, with both the sole and heel of your shoe in contact with the floor.

This is a very powerful position - it makes you look as if you are ready for action.

The "athletic position" is not the most suitable for women, who should position the legs in a low cross, or, keeping the legs together, just cross the ankles.

Don’t fidget. You can use your hands to emphasise a point however try not to fiddle with a pen or other object. Also don’t sit with your arms crossed. This can be interpreted as defensive.



If you found first impressions count interesting link to preparing for interview or Great interview questions

Return to start a new career