FIrst Impressions

Back in the late 1980s Head & Shoulders shampoo made a big splash with an ad campaign that centered around the tag line, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

The shampoo is still on store shelves, helping people deal with those pesky white flakes on the scalp, and the tag line is just as relevant today as it ever was. According to psychologists, we only have about 7-15 seconds before strangers form an opinion of us, so making the most of our initial meeting with anyone is vital to our future relations with that person.

When the person you’re meeting is a potential employer, that means you’ll want to prepare ahead of time to ensure you put your best foot forward. Here are three tips that can help:

Watch what you wear: Since first impressions are formed so quickly, appearance has to be at the top of your list. Most respiratory care managers can tell you stories about job candidates who marched into their offices dressed as if they were going out for a run, or getting ready to clean out their garages, or even worse, heading out for a night on the town. They’ll also tell you those folks had short interviews, because the first impression they left with their attire was all the manager needed to see to know he didn’t want to hire them. So dress appropriately. A nicely pressed button up shirt and slacks for guys, or a conservative dress, shirt and skirt, or shirt and slacks for girls will do the trick. Ladies, leave the six inch heels at home too. Flats or modest heels are more in line with getting the job.

Mind your manners: Shortly after your prospective employer first lays eyes on you, she is going to observe your body language and hear you speak. Approach the manager with a nice smile, offer your hand for a hearty handshake, and then state your pleasure in making her acquaintance. The key is to exude an aura of confidence and project a positive image that will let the employer know you are someone who can work well with other people and is certain of his ability to do a good job.

Every interaction counts: Don’t forget that everyone you meet during the time you spend in the hospital will be making first impressions about you too, so adopt that aura of confidence and positive image before you even walk in the door and maintain it throughout the visit. You don’t want the staff therapists who may be walking by to notice you fidgeting in your chair while you await your interview, see you snacking on a candy bar because you skipped lunch, or watch as you stare nervously into space. Any insecure or negative behavior they witness is bound to be shared with coworkers and will ultimately get back to the hiring manager. The same is true for any staff members you may be introduced to during the interview process. Each new encounter will result in a first impression, and you want them all to be positive.