“You have just 7 seconds to make a good first impression” says Roger Ailes, CEO of FOX News. His pointed message is that people will start to make their minds up about you in only 7 seconds. Is this for real? We’ll its close.
I have been thinking about this quote in respect to the over 200 interviews I have given with job candidates over the years. There is no question that I have started to form an opinion based on visuals in the first 10 seconds and a fairly detailed opinion in the first couple of minutes. There might be subtle differences when interviewing an Account Executive expected to be glib vs. an engineer with hidden programming talent, but I do think that the first impression counts a great deal.
Here’s my list of the primary opinion triggers, which will vary by job function, but are still fairly consistent.
- Are you dressed appropriately? As 1950’s “Mad Men” as this may sound, looking sloppy will make me think that you are not into detail.
- Have a moderately firm handshake and make eye contact. Darting eyes freak me out.
- Project energy and passion. This is the time to stand out from the other 20 candidates.
- Sound, even rehearse, smart and put a couple of intelligent sentences together. Being articulate is more valuable to me than your marketing degree from U of O.
- Know something about my business and industry. Demonstrate interest.
- Tell me something I don’t know.
- There is more and now you will also have to deal with the following reality of our digital world.
Just as the surprise factor of a “blind date” has been dramatically reinvented – think Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., most candidates are vetted online before they ever walk in the door. It is quite possible that those critical first 7 seconds start as soon as I Google your name. Today, your personal digital brand accounts for a very high percentage of that first impression. Work it.