Part One: First impressions make or break a candidate’s decision

Part One: First impressions make or break a candidate’s decision

Research from Monster.co.uk reveals an interviewee’s first impression is impacted by everything from the reception area to what they think of the interviewer’s handshake and fashion sense.

More than two thirds (70 per cent) of job seekers turn down a job if their first impression is sub-standard, according to a new study from Monster.co.uk.

The research highlights what influences first impressions with 35 per cent of interviewees saying they would not take a job if they didn’t like the reception area. The interviewer is another big factor with 50 per cent of potential employees saying they would be swayed by the interviewer’s dress sense, handshake (60 per cent) or quality of banter (58 per cent), and 51 per cent saying they would turn down a job if they were kept waiting too long in reception.

According to 59 per cent of job applicants, even the way an interviewer wears make up could negatively affect their impression of a potential employer.

Employers were also highly influenced by their first impressions of candidates, and the report found that job applicants have on average just 6 minutes and 25 seconds during the first meeting to impress interviewers.

Physical appearance is an issue on both sides of the interviewing table, with 70 per cent of employers saying that the way someone wears make up could impact a first impression, and more than two thirds (71 per cent) of employers saying tattoos would put them off hiring a candidate. Job seekers should dress to impress as 62 per cent say a candidate’s dress sense impacts their employability.

Corinne Sweet, organisational behaviour psychologist, explains: “We make instant assumptions about people and can judge harshly or form fantasies, based on external factors including: style, tattoos, skin colour and their accent.  These impressions can be right or wrong, but employers need to understand that employees are forming their impressions too!

Employers rank first impressions as the second most important factor (24 per cent) when considering a hire, following only behind work experience (36 per cent) but before a candidate’s education (12 per cent).

A candidate’s timekeeping is the number one factor influencing an employer’s first impression (96 per cent) followed closely by the amount of preparation a candidate has done (93 per cent), their ability to hold eye contact (82 per cent) and their personal appearance (73 per cent).

Andrew Sumner, Managing Director of Monster.co.uk in the UK and Ireland, explains: “In a competitive and complex job market, this demonstrates how important getting the basics right is at an interview, for both parties. HR professionals need to be sensitive to how they are perceived in the first instance. This includes ensuring that every interaction a candidate has with the company is smooth; from the first emails he or she receives, right through to the pleasant welcoming experience at interview.

“Those involved in the recruitment process have to be just as attentive and engaged as they expect candidates to be, otherwise they risk missing out on the best talent.”

Highlight research findings

Interviewers

Top things which make or break an interviewer’s first impression:

  • A candidate’s timekeeping (96 per cent managers agree this is influential)
  • Level of a candidates interview preparation (93 per cent agree)
  • Ability to hold eye contact (82 per cent agree)
  • Personal appearance (73 per cent agree)
  • Quality of banter or small talk (60 per cent agree)
  • Strength of handshake (55 per cent agree)

The five most important factors interviewers consider when making a hire are:

  • Work experience (36 per cent)
  • First impression of the candidate (24 per cent)
  • Education (12 per cent)
  • Professional qualifications (10 per cent)
  • References (9 per cent)

Other factors that influenced interviewers are:

  • 71 per cent of employers said a visible tattoo would put them off
  • 6 per cent definitely wouldn't hire someone with a tattoo, and 25 per cent would think twice, even with a strong candidate
  • 77 per cent say a visible piercing would put them off
  • 8 per cent definitely wouldn't hire someone with a piercing and 41 per cent would think twice, even if they were a strong candidate
  • 62 per cent admit a candidate's dress sense affects their decision
  • 70 per cent of employers said that the way someone applies their make up could impact a first impression

The survey asked employers to give examples of the behaviour that created bad first impressions. The top five worst examples are:

  • Limp handshake
  • Knowing nothing about the role or the company
  • Turning up late
  • Smelling badly – either because of body odour or of smoke
  • Being high or drunk

Applicants

The factors that influence an applicant’s first impressions are:

  • 35 per cent would turn down a job if they didn't like the reception area
  • 42 per cent would be more likely to take a job if they liked the manner of the office receptionist
  • 44 per cent admit they'd probably turn down a job if they didn't like the room they were interviewed in
  • 50 per cent would be swayed by the interviewer's dress sense
  • 51 per cent would turn down a job if they were kept waiting too long in reception
  • 58 per cent said banter or small talk is important
  • 59 per cent of job applicants said the way an interviewer wore make up could negatively affect their impression of a potential employer
  • 60 per cent would be swayed by the interviewer's handshake

About the research

The research was conducted in April 2014 and included feedback from 273 managers and 3,286 employees or job seekers.

Get more hiring tips from Monster http://hiring.monster.co.uk

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