First Impressions on Interviewers and Recruiters: How to Make Them Count

November 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm 5 comments

By Will Heyward

First impressions are vital in every facet of life—especially in business. One of your main goals in the recruitment process is to be memorable. But, you don’t want to be memorable for all the wrong reasons. Here are five recommendations to help you make a positive first impression during your interactions with recruiters and interviewers.

1) Have a Good Handshake

Before the conversation ever begins, you can start off on the right foot with a good, firm handshake. According to an article on, the best handshake involves “a strong grip, maintained eye contact, and deliberate pumps up and down.” Also, remember to make eye contact and smile. However, a bad handshake can put a nail in your coffin before you even get the chance to speak.  Having a “lazy” handshake makes you appear handshake“disinterested,” and an overzealous handshake is “distracting and annoying.” So practice your professional handshake. Although a good handshake won’t set you apart, a bad one may set a negative tone for an entire encounter. However, having a great handshake is the first step toward a good first impression.

2) Be Personable – Be Yourself

Even if you’re brilliant and understand every textbook concept relevant to your industry of choice, your recruiters and interviewers are looking for something more – they’re looking for your personality. Why? Recruiters need to determine if you’re going to be a good fit for the firm. The recruiting process is pretty similar to casual dating – both parties (you and your prospective employer) need to figure out if the relationship is going to work long term. With the long term in mind, don’t fake aspects of your personality and interests to appear a better fit for the firm. If you don’t mesh well with the company culture, you probably won’t be happy working there in the long term. For more tips, read “The Importance of Fitting In”  by Harrison Barnes, the founder and CEO of The Employment Research Institute.

3) Be Enthusiastic

buffett quoteRemember that recruiters and interviewers have taken time out of their schedules to speak with you. Show them that you are excited to speak with them and appreciate their time! Being enthusiastic is a great way to make a good first impression and to make you memorable. One of the traits that recruiters want to see the most is passion for the firm and industry. You can show your passion by speaking with enthusiasm and doing your homework about the firm ahead of time – be ready to talk about recent company news and relevant current events. When you demonstrate your enthusiasm during interviews or conversations with recruiters, you set yourself apart in their minds and give yourself a leg up on the competition. For more information about acing your job interview with enthusiasm, check out this Forbes article

4) Be Humble

Portraying confidence during the recruitment and interview process is important. But, also remember humility.  A recent Forbes article notes that displaying humility is one of 12 things all successful people do. Humility makes you seem more personable… more human. By acknowledging your own imperfections, you demonstrate to your potential employer that you are open to critique and new ways of thinking, making you a more attractive candidate. Additionally, humility conveys a human factor, which helps to make you more personable.

5) Be Sincere

One of the worst things you can do when speaking with a recruiter or interviewer is to sound scripted. Scripted-sounding speech hurts your credibility and your overall chances of making a good impression. You want to come across as sincere – the amount of time you have with recruiters and interviewers is so limited that you need to make sure you get the most out of every word. Sincerity, an important characteristic of any valuable employee, cultivates trust.

Take Action

Making a good first impression can be difficult. However, with adequate preparation, you can do it. Remember, you aren’t going to fit perfectly with every firm, and your personality won’t mesh well with every recruiter. Just keep an open mind and cast your net wide.

Going forward, give deep thought to a) what you want to do and b) why. Once you know your goals, following the advice laid out in this blog will make answering many of your interview questions much easier. Also, even if you think you already have all of my advice down, keep practicing. Conscientiously craft your story and answers in such a way that you position yourself ideally for your job of choice. Now go make a good first impression!


Entry filed under: Job-search Communication.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Xiangcheng Gao  |  November 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Thank you for your advice on making good first impressions. This piece of information is especially beneficial to an international student like me in that I can understand American culture to better handle interviews and recruiting process. By the way, I like the article you provided about “The Importance of Fitting In” as well. Nice blog!
    – Max Gao

  • 2. Trey Manning  |  November 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks for posting the blog. I think you bring up a lot of good points about the necessity of having confidence and enthusiasm in both verbal tone and body language.The difficult part always seems to be balancing preparation and enthusiasm with the unscripted humility. Great blog.

  • 3. Sophie Hilliard  |  November 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I liked your layout- especially the numbering, it made me want to read the blog because it seemed like a quick (not overwhelming) read. Many times these blogs often provide so much information that people do not really absorb the tips given, so I really appreciated that

  • 4. Will Heyward  |  November 30, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Thanks y’all! Glad you enjoyed the blog!

  • 5. Brian McClintock  |  December 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Thanks for the advice. Especially in the midst of recruiting season. I think for me some of these things will take practice to perfect. I might have to head to the BCC.

    Don’t they say recruiters ultimately make their decision in the first 30 seconds?

    Great blog!


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