First Impressions Are Made in 5 Seconds
By Tonya Wells – It’s an unconscious thing that we all do, but everyone makes automatic assumptions about someone within the first 5 seconds that we see them. It’s not intentional. It’s just automatic. There is something within our subconscious that takes in everything we see instantly. It kicks off a massive amount of internal processing and makes massive assumptions about what our eyes are seeing.
Our brains instantly catalogue this information and give us a funny feeling in the pit of our stomachs if something seems even a little bit out of place, even if we can’t put our finger on what it is exactly that is wrong with what we are seeing. This phenomenon was documented based upon numerous scientific studies in the book ‘Blink’ by Malcolm Gladwell. In this book, Gladwell researched the accuracy of this instant cataloging that our brain does and discussed at length why we should all rely more on our gut instinct.
Interviewers rely on this gut instinct from the moment they see you sitting in the front lobby waiting for your interview. It happens in about 5 seconds. We take in everything about you from head to toe in an instant. We instantly assess whether you look like you just rolled out of bed (or look like you never went to bed at all for that matter), whether or not you are well-groomed, and whether or not you smell like an ashtray or forgot to wash your hair.
It only takes 5 seconds to assess whether or not you look unkempt and dowdy, neat and tidy, or whether or not you look like a rock star candidate in your power suit. We instantly notice if your shoes are tracking mud all over our clean lobby carpet, and whether or not you have shoes on that are showing your bare toes, which happen to be in massive need of a pedicure (even though a pedicure wouldn’t help those nasty looking monkey toes we see curled around your open-toed shoe).We also notice if it looks like you spilled coffee on yourself on the way to the interview, and we notice if your panty hose have runs in them or if they seem to be gathering around your ankles like spankles.
All of this happens in an instant. And, we unconsciously or consciously rank how well or poorly dressed you are, and it instantly ranks you somewhere amongst the other candidates with whom we are interviewing. There is no taking it back. There are no do-overs. So, the first impression your Interviewer gets of you is the only shot you’ve got. You’d better wow them straight out of the gate!
For Further Reading:
- Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – One of the BEST books available on setting good first impressions.
- What to Wear To Your Job Interview: How to Dress for Your Job Interview and What NOT to Wear if You Really Want the Job! (Ace Your Job Interview) – Yes, this is a personal plug, but I wrote this book with the SOLE PURPOSE of teaching you how to make a good first impression
- Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma