Job Interview: poor first impression

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009 - career change, career transition, Employment, Job Application, Job Interview, recruitment

Recovering from poor first impression

Would You Hire This?! =/
Creative Commons License photo credit: rileyroxx

Larry, a sales person, asks: I was recently in a job interview, and one of the people on the employers side and I seemed quickly not to get on. I have had this happen occasionally on sales calls. How do you handle the first encounter with a person that did not go so well, for reason either outside your fault (e.g. the person is in a bad mood because his boss just yelled at him), and you just go happened to meet him five minutes afterwards, or it happened to you (e.g. you are feeling down). What would you do to make the best out of the situation? How would that change whether this was a minor or major issue?

In answer:
There is little possibility of recovering a bad first impression after the event, unless you both have a good mutual friend. The answer therefore is, the moment you think such a situation has occurred, is to take control and stop the deterioration, and avoid further damage.

There are three scenarios:

  • Its the other parties issue/fault
  • Its your issue/fault
  • Its a combination of both of you

In two of those scenarios, you have input. As the situation is most likely you are wanting something from the other person – a sale, a job, an action, etc – you are giving them great/excellent reasons not to take the required action.

Take human control

As we teach our candidates as recruiters: take control, take a step backwards, and say:

Look, I’m sorry, clearly this isn’t a great day for me, and I feel in some way I have upset or disappointed you. My sincere apologies.

Then say nothing – wait for them to react. Few will now not take pity, and hence not react on a human level. Most will step out of the business mindset and have a human conversation with you.

Your strategy now is to find out if it is you, or the solution/opportunity you are offering. If you find there is something of value, then offer to remake the appointment on another day; if it is with regards your approach, offer to let your boss or a colleague remake the appointment; if you are in a Job Interview, and the person you disagree with is your potential future boss, say thank you for the opportunity and offer your hand.

Generally I find most however will ignore this advice – be it a minor or major issue, to them or the other person – let the situation continue, and resultantly blame the other person for the communication failure. But communication is a two way thing, and everyone needs to recognise their input to creating the situation – hence, take control.

Good Luck!

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