10 Must-Dos to Make a Great First Impression on Candidates

April 1, 2016

You’ll never get a second chance to make a great first impression.

Cliché? Yes.

True? Unfortunately, also a yes.

According to experts, it only takes 7 seconds on average for someone to make a judgment about you. This means that as a recruiter, if you want to land a candidate, you need to ‘have them at hello.

Here are 10 things you can do in order to leave a positive first impression with candidates you meet in person:

1. Have the right attitude

  • attitude

Before you meet a candidate, take a moment to adjust your attitude. Why? Because people pick up on your mood instantly. Sure, you might be cranky – maybe it’s a Monday – but you don’t want them to get that vibe. Think about what you want them to feel, and adjust your attitude accordingly.

2. Straighten your posture

  • posture

Now that you have the right attitude, make sure you have the right stance. Nonverbally, status and power are shown by height and space. So, make sure you’re back is straight (not rigid), your shoulders are back and relaxed, and you’re holding your head straight. This will show the candidate that you are both confident and capable

3. Relax your arms 

  • relax

Don’t cross your arms. Yes, it’s comfortable, but it gives people the sense that you're closed off. So, to make a candidate feel welcome and at ease, keep your arms relaxed at your sides. And once you sit down, keep your legs uncrossed as well in order to show you’re relaxed.

4. Smile and nod appropriately 

  • smile

If you want candidates to think you’re friendly and approachable, you need to show those pearly whites. And more, continuing to smile and nod appropriately shows that you understand and are listening to what they’re saying. 

5. Make eye contact

  • eye contact

Making good eye contact right away transfers energy and shows you are interested and open. And, be sure to keep this going while you speak to show you care about the conversation.

But, don’t be creepy. If you don’t blink and take some breaks…you’re just staring. 

6. Raise your eyebrows

  • eyebrows

Giving your eyebrows a single quick up-down (called the “eyebrow flash") is a signal of recognition and greeting and will make a candidate feel welcome.

Fun fact: this is common signal across all primates.

7. Shake their hand

  • handshake

Always greet candidates with a firm (not too firm) handshake. This is key, because it sets the tone for the entire interaction. And, research shows it takes an average of three hours of constant interaction to develop the same level of rapport that you can get with a single handshake. So, don’t be a wet noodle. 

8. Lean in

  • lean in

Leaning forward slighty signals that you’re interested and engaging with what the candidate has to say. But, be careful not to intrude on their personal space – two feet away is a safe distance in most situations.

But, it’s worth noting that different cultures treat personal space differently. For example, Asian, Southern European, and South American cultures tend to need less personal space. So if you’re interviewing globally, study up. 

9. Mirror their facial expressions

  • mirror

This actually happens naturally a lot of the time. Think about when you’re watching a movie where someone is smiling and happy – you’ll notice that you’re often smiling too.

And, mirroring other people’s expressions demonstrates that you are in agreement and like them.

10. Make gestures with your hands

  • gesture

Once you’ve gotten into the conversation with a candidate, use your hands to gesture when you speak. Not only does this make you more believable, there’s evidence that gesturing with your hands when you’re talking helps you think.

If you do these 10 things, it’s going to be hard for a candidate to dislike you right off the bat. And if they like you, they’re more likely to be interested in your company or job or want to work with you in the future. Win. 

*Image from Death to the Stock Photo

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