Dollars and sense: Keys to making a good first impression

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 15, 2008

By MARLENE WALLACE / Guest Columnist

So you’re going to an interview, and you want to know how to make the best first impression?

Allen and Barbara Pease, authors of the bestseller, “The Definitive Book of Body Language” cite compelling statistics:

People form 90 percent of their opinions about you in the first four minutes and 60-80 percent of the impact you will make is nonverbal.

Here are a few basics to getting it right the first time:

-Travel light. Remove your outerwear and give it to the receptionist. Avoid schlepping in with your arms full. Women, in particular, present a more professional image if they omit the purse.

Note: If you are kept waiting for more than 20 minutes we can assume that (a) the interviewer is disorganized or (b) he is practicing a form of power play.

The Peases recommend that you always take a business book, PDA or office work, which shows that you too are busy and industrious.

-Your entry tells others how you expect to be treated.

When given the signal from the receptionist, walk in without hesitation.

Don’t stand in the doorway like a naughty schoolchild waiting to see the principal!

-Never shake hands directly across a desk.

Use a person’s name twice in the first 15 seconds and NEVER talk for more than 30 seconds at a time.

Carry a slim briefcase or portfolio.

The perception is that powerful people at strategic levels are concerned only with the bottom line.

Large, bulky briefcases are carried only by those underlings who do all the work!

Which one would you rather be?

-When making your exit, pack up calmly, shake hands and walk out.

If the door was closed when you entered, close it behind you as you leave.

On a final note, people always watch you from behind as you leave, so make sure you’ve shined the backs of your shoes to make a great lasting impression, as well!

Marlene Wallace is the president of Career Concepts Inc., located in North Shelby County. She can be reached by phone at 995-1040