First impressions matter!

By Younas Chaudhary

Job interviews are stressful and a person’s demeanor, body language, and mannerisms play an important role in landing the desired job. I have seen people come for interviews without properly groomed hair and dressed shabbily in loose clothing and sneakers.

Younas Chaudhary

Always dress appropriately in properly fitted clothes for an interview as you are the one who needs to make the sale. You do not need to overdress but you must always dress professionally for job interviews, lender meetings, and other professional meetings.

I have had laughs, cries, and bouts of desperation interviewing people for jobs during my career. I have interviewed many courteous professionals and odd and strange people. For example, an individual interviewing for a senior level position at one of my companies asked me which part of town I lived in, which mosque I went to, what restaurant I like to eat at, and what kind of food I liked. And then there was a lady who purposely wore traditional Pakistani dress to the interview thinking that it would score well on her interview.

Our first impressions matter when we are interviewing for a job or attending a professional meeting. To begin with, being punctual for an interview is critical. I have had interviewees come in late saying that the traffic was bad or that they got stuck at a railroad crossing. And then, there are those who come half an hour early thinking that my time has no value. I have rarely hired anyone who was late for an interview. If you are late at your first interview, you have lost your credibility and you are not hired.

During job interviews, maintaining eye contact throughout the interview is important. Some do not smile and keep gazing at things, others are uptight or laugh too much and then there the ones who appear nervous, fiddling their thumbs. It is good to loosen up and just be yourself, communicate with proper eye contact and in plain language. Walk straight with confidence and show your energy rather than be slouchy and slow.

I have often seen folks who read job prep guides, come with a notebook, and start interviewing me when in fact I am the one who will decide whether to hire that individual or not. They appear inquisitive and ask me questions about how they should be doing their jobs, rather than listening to me and demonstrating that they can add value to my company!

Some of them try to fake confidence, a trick they learn from reading books on career success.   This never works.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, companies have shifted to Zoom interviews and other online tools, but I believe in that face to face, in-person interview. Getting hired for a job is a two-way street and involves mutual trust and an investment in each other. 

Here are a few tips for you to remember to make your first impressions matter:

  • Learn the location of your interview. Try to go there the night before and scan the surroundings, understand parking and how to get there on time.
  • Get into the interview room no more than 5 minutes before the allotted time.
  • Be nice and polite to the building staff, like the security folks and office staff who show you around.
  • Dress appropriately in fitted professional clothing.
  • Walk straight showing confidence.
  • Do not wear heavy scented perfumes or colognes.
  • Your handshake should be firm.
  • Be genuine and ask intelligent questions.
  • Show that you want the job.
  • Always be honest and clear in your responses.
  • Be yourself, always be humble and be You.



The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.

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