10 Scientific Ways to Make a Great First Impression


Without even realising, we silently judge everyone we meet simply because we’re inquisitive creatures. Countless studies have been conducted through the years on how much truth there is in the saying ‘First impressions count’, and which factors can influence the way we are perceived. If you’re a job seeker, these findings are invaluable ahead of an interview that could make or break your career – within seconds! No pressure. We’ve put together our 10 scientifically studied tips to help you succeed in a glance.

Upload a recognisable LinkedIn profile picture

First impressions start online in today’s recruitment process, so profile pages on sites like LinkedIn paint you in a certain light before you turn up to an interview. According to researchers at Cornell University, we judge people based on a single photograph, which can last up to six months. If a person likes your photograph, they’re more likely to experience a friendlier interaction face to face.  

On a side note, spammy, unused or out-of-date profiles often don’t have a profile picture, so a bare page will ring alarm bells.

Don your best threads

A Dutch study found that the clothes you wear can affect your perceived status in society. Participants who wore high-price labels, like Tommy Hilfiger and Lacoste, were viewed as higher status than those who wore unbranded threads. Another study in Canada also linked the formality of clothing to how much money people have in the bank and how quickly they would get a promotion.

Slip on your smartest shoes

An interesting study in the Journal of Psychology describes how a group of volunteers accurately judged a person’s age, gender, income and even levels of anxiety based on pictures of their shoes – it pays to cover the finer details.

Start a positive conversation

First impressions are difficult to change. Experts discovered back in 2011 that when you meet someone you create a rule just for them. So, if you begin a negative conversation off the bat, the person will forever think of you as negative - until you prove them wrong and they make a mental exception. With this in mind, enter the room with a smile and a positive greeting to overcome this initial barrier.

Clean your teeth

Pearly whites are a big bonus in an interview. 115 participants in a 2001 study were shown eight photographs: some with white, intact teeth, and others with decayed teeth. The results were surprising. It found that dental appearance matters significantly more if a person of the opposite sex is evaluating you - but we recommend brushing your teeth anyway!

Make eye contact while you talk

Looking someone in the eye while you talk is a huge indication that you’re intelligent, concluded a 2007 social perception study. Other positive intelligence indicators include thick glasses and speaking expressively.

Perfect your handshake

‘What’s in a handshake’, I hear you ask? Quite a lot. Like an image, a handshake can say a lot about your personality. According to experts, if you’re too strong with the grip, you may be compensating for something, whereas if your handshake is too limp, this may indicate that you’re too shy and retiring.

Strike the right tone

The way we speak says a lot about our character and how we may interact in the workplace – a good voice can even override lacklustre personal hygiene, revealed a study in 2007. Most of the time, our voices change instinctively as we enter different scenarios. Our voices drop lower and become more dynamic, for example, when we’re faced with a high-power situation, like an interview.

Speak with confidence

On a similar note, faster talkers are judged to be more competent, based on a study back in the 70s which asked participants to judge 50 synthetic voices. Another study backed these findings, in which voices were slowed down and were perceived as less truthful and less persuasive.

Open up your body language

Body language plays a huge part in our social perceptions. Researchers in Texas found that participants in a study accurately identified an average of 9 out of 10 correct personality traits based on body language alone. What’s the best way to hold yourself? Stand in an open and relaxed way, with your chin up, a straight back and arms to your sides to become more approachable.

There you have it. Hours of scientific study condensed down into a handy guide for job seekers. Take a look around our blog to discover more top tips while you look for your next career opportunity.

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