A little while ago I heard someone say, “just because I am ugly doesn’t mean that I like ugly people.” Now I guess you could look at that from two different angles. Firstly, is the person saying that they don’t like themselves? Or possibly, they just could be like most of us who really are affected by the sight of something beautiful.
Right, just before you go off at me with your “beauty is only in the eye of the beholder” routine, I want to clear up my position on this. I’m not saying that beauty is everything, but it certainly makes an impression. Just like someone who walks into an interview with amazing confidence and poise. It’s these kinds of people that leave a lasting impression on their audience. They seem to have something that connects with people without even necessarily making an effort. It is their ability to make a first and lasting impression that often gets them a foot in the door, or even leads them to get the job ahead of others who are just as qualified.
Now to make this a little more practical for you, I want to share a quick story that happened recently. I was asked to design and develop an assessment process for roughly twenty security officers who were applying for a position in a large business. Part of that assessment was a group exercise where each person had to contribute equally. I guess not surprising to me was that there were almost twenty different responses to the exercise as each individual gave their own unique contribution. This ranged from high levels of personal leadership and confidence down to intermittent input and sometimes even total and complete silence, as some faded into the background. Now I have enough experience to spot that it’s not always the loud ones that say the intelligent things, but I was quite taken aback at some of the applicants who quite literally allowed themselves to be totally dominated in the group. I’m not sure what they must have thought, but when I say they were withdrawn and quiet, I mean they actually didn’t say one word in the assessment. The impression they left as you can imagine was quite disturbing. A security officer with such a lack of confidence and presence in my eyes was totally ineffective and bordering on being dangerous. So does it all rest on confidence I wonder?
I imagine a large part of the problem certainly does lie in how confidently you can carry yourself off in any social environment. When you are being assessed or observed, the confidence factor definitely plays a major role. Think beyond job interviews for a while. Pop idols often get rated on their ability to entertain rather than on their ability to sing. It’s about how much they light up the stage as opposed to their voice having the perfect pitch. You can say what you want about Robbie Williams’ singing, but it’s the entertainment value and cockiness that the fans love. Is he successful? Damn right he is. Is he the best singer in the world? Not even close. But who cares? Okay so we’re not all going to be entering another season of Idols, but we are going to find ourselves face to face with a job interview panel, or potential employer. Are we going to make them fans, or are we going to fade into the background?
Let’s stop for a while and think about what you could possibly do to make a lasting impression with people. For a start, your CV alone could be just the thing to get you noticed. Make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to present a truly appealing CV. Later on, when you are informed that you have been invited to an interview, you should prepare yourself fully. Dress smartly without overdoing it. Speak clearly at all times and remember this is your opportunity to advertise who you are. A poor advertisement seldom sparks people into buying the product. If your ad is appealing it will generate more interest and ultimately place you on top of the “buyer’s” list. Without presenting yourself confidently you run the risk of being browsed over and ignored. Now who wants to be in that position in any job search?
BUILDING A LASTING IMPRESSION
- First impressions leave a real mark on people
- Use your first contact to build a positive image in people’s minds
- Present everything in a way that is consistent with who you are
- Your CV is the first advert that people will notice
- Follow up your CV with a physically appealing interaction
- Keep eye contact in meetings, and make sure you speak clearly
- Take the initiative politely and appropriately
- Don’t interrupt or push your point rudely and forcefully
- Dress in a smart but not overbearing manner
- Think about your audience and make sure you understand their expectations