Five Rules for Making a Good First Impression

When interviewing for a job or with a prospective client, making a good first impression is crucial, setting the tone for what one hopes will be a mutually inspiring conversation.

Here are five things to keep in mind before you plunge ahead:

1. Check for tears, missing buttons, and stains.

What you wear matters. Your appearance is the first sensory impression you will make, so use it as a tool to project how you want to be perceived. Regardless of the look you decide on, make sure it is clean, unwrinkled, undamaged, and that it fits properly. Lint rollers are your friends.

2. Consider your environment.

If you are job seeking in a traditional corporate environment, dress the part. Wear neutral colors and make sure your blazer, shirt, blouse, slacks, or dress are properly fitted. If you are interviewing in a creative office environment, you don’t need to be so formal — it could actually work against you — but make sure your clothes always demonstrate respect for the occasion.

3. Show some personality.

Even within the confines of formal business attire, it’s possible to tastefully exhibit memorable style — just mind the scale. Interesting (but not super bright colored, juvenile, or jokey) details on a watch, small piece of jewelry, scarf, or tie are a chance to quietly and respectfully leave an impression.

4. Use clothing to demonstrate your ability to handle tasks.

In more creative environments, there is leeway in the types of garments that are appropriate, but stick to clothing that is in good physical condition. Exhibiting an interest in design and expression is almost always to your advantage, but it is a much more attractive trait accompanied by an interest in keeping things clean and tidy, too.

5. Start using hand grips yesterday.

You can buy a pair of hand grips for about $7, which is a steal when you consider the importance of a good handshake. A solid, firm (but not crushing) shake conveys confidence and strength. People will want to trust you if you give them a dynamite handshake and all it takes is a few squeezes for a few minutes every day. Plus, it will do wonders for your typing.

Share your own tips below on what to do (or avoid) to make a good first impression when meeting a prospective employer!

Marjorie is a former Creative Circle candidate based in Portland who recently accepted a full-time offer for her dream job. She is a writer/editor and stylist/producer with an emphasis in the design world. If you are interested in working with someone like Marjorie, please contact your nearest Creative Circle office.