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job interviews – what really makes a difference

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legal warning: The information here should not be understood legally as financial advice. If you believe anything on this site is in error, please contact me. I am always open to corrections, new ideas, and new opinions...


During each of my last two job searches, I was in contact with two different organizations aimed at helping people learn how to find a job.  In addition to the networking and resume writing workshops that were offered, I took part in a job interview session, where different people in the group performed mock interviews in front of the class to be critiqued and analyzed.  The analysis was always the same: advising whoever was just interviewed to imitate the interviewer’s body language, appear unanimated and professional, have a good handshake and develop the interview and build it up as it goes along.  At the same time, an old myth, really a mantra generally inconsistent with what we were learning, was often repeated: you only have half a second to make an impression that will determine everything.

Recently, a post on Pop Economics discussed this issue from an economic perspective, basing it’s guidance on research and numbers, instead of an HR guru’s gut feeling.

In short:

You really do only have a tenth of a second to make a good impression.

And if that wasn’t tough enough…

  • Matching tone and body posture does not help
  • You can’t fake a firm handshake
  • You can’t train for most of the things that will determine your good first impression
  • Attractive people have a better shot at making a first good impression

Sounds pretty pessimistic.  In fact, this post paints a pretty bleak picture for balding overweight men like yours truly.   But there are some things you can do to help yourself:

  • Show emotion – any emotion, good or bad, builds rapport
  • Finding something in common, or more precisely, anything in common, helps leave a good impression

Finally, the author leaves with some sound advice:  Next time you’re in an interview, take it easy:  You can’t control most of what will happen anyways, so just act naturally and throw the dice.

What has your experience taught you about job interviews?

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