Make Yourself Stick With These First Impression Tips

by Brett and Kate McKay on February 19, 2008 · 55 comments

in Money & Career


When you’re interviewing for a job, one of the keys to success is your first impression. If you’re about to go in for an interview, maybe its time to re-evaluate the first impression you give off. Do you come off as likable? Do you exude professionalism and charm?

The goal of every first impression is to stick to a person�s brain. You want them to instantly like you and to keep thinking about you hours or even days after your first met them. Here are few things we can all do to give a killer first impression.

Dress to impress. You don�t want to walk into an interview looking like a slob. If you look sloppy, people will assume you do sloppy work. Look neat and presentable. Also, dress so you�ll fit in with the people who are interviewing you. For attorneys that means conservative suits, white shirts, and ties. If your job is more creative, say like a graphic designer, dress so it looks like you�re creative.

Look fit. People are attracted to people in good physical shape. If you�re out of shape, start heading to the gym everyday for 30 minutes of cardio and strength training. Also, quit eating junk and start eating healthy.

Give an impressive handshake. The first handshake is a key part in giving a good first impression.

Focus on speaking. Speak clearly and at a moderate pace. Work on varying your voice intonation. You don�t want to come off as a monotone bore. Also, speak the language of the person interviewing you. Avoid slang and jargon not associated with the job you�re interviewing for. Use proper grammar and vocabulary that reflects a higher education. If people can�t understand you, it�s hard for them to like you.

Use the person�s name. Using the interviewer�s name makes the conversation more personable. It also shows that you were paying attention during introductions and that the other person was important enough for you to memorize their name. However, avoid overusing a person�s name. Too much name use is off putting because it sounds fake and a little bit creepy.

Let the person know you�re listening. If it looks like you�re not listening, people will be turned off. Give subtle hints that you�re listening such as looking the person in the eye, nodding, and saying an occasional �I see.� Also , ask questions about what someone had just said. It shows you�ve been paying attention and that you want to know more about what they�re saying. Finally, don�t interrupt.

Shine the spotlight on the other person. The secret to charm is directing attention away from you and on to the other person. Avoid blabbing about yourself and start asking questions about the other person. Great questions to ask in an interview include:

  • �How did you end up at (name of company)?�
  • �What drew you to (name of company)?
  • What do you like most about working at (name of company)?�

You�ll not only get key insights about your potential employer, but the questions also require the interviewer to talk about themselves and people love talking about themselves.

What other things can we do to give a good first impression? Drop a comment and add to the conversation.

If you liked this article, please bookmark it on or vote for it on Digg. I�d appreciate it.

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Image by Tobyotter

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 X February 19, 2008 at 1:09 pm

I think every blog and magazine on the planet has at least one “Interview TIps” article. I would like it if you differentiated your blog from all the others and covered topics that have more to do with manliness. Possibly more abstract.

2 DermDoc February 19, 2008 at 2:16 pm

For residency you have to interview at lots of medical centers. I probably have over 100 individual interviews. Trying to make yourself stand out from a crowd of outstanding applicants – like competing with a guy in the top of his class at Yale who was also on the Olympic dive team – can make you crazy. (Just give the spot to him …)

These tips are perfect, you would be surprised how many people have no clue how to interview well.

I might add: write a polite (but not obsequious) thank you note as a follow-up.

3 D J February 19, 2008 at 2:22 pm

I don’t think I would have picked that word to make a point about proper grammar and vocabulary, but that’s just me.

4 Brett February 19, 2008 at 2:26 pm


Thanks for the feedback X. I definitely want this site to be a place where more abstract ideas about manliness are discussed and covered. Those posts take more time and research and I’m also a law student right now, so they will be interspersed with man skills posts. I think both are important. I want the site to be a place not only for abstract manliness, but the practical sort of things many men have forgotten or have given up on.

5 fathersez February 19, 2008 at 6:29 pm

Thanks for the tips. These are relevant to everyone.

I am taking note of this as part of my lessons for my elder girls who should be joining the rat race soon,.


6 Brett McKay February 19, 2008 at 8:55 pm


You’re right. These tips are relevant for everyone. Tell your daughters good luck with the rat race.

7 Brett McKay February 19, 2008 at 8:57 pm


I completely agree with you on the thank you note. That can make the difference between getting a call back or not. Thanks for the addition!

8 X February 19, 2008 at 10:35 pm


No doubt, your blog is great. Impressive that you are running this while in law school. I will continue to be a loyal subscriber because your posts are substantial, and like you said, well researched and time is invested in them, unlike many other blogs.

9 bob February 20, 2008 at 2:14 pm

A good sense of humor helps as well. Dont “try” to be funny, that is the worst. but gauge the level of tension in the interview and act appropriately. Also an honest smile with a firm handshake go far. If I feel comfortable with an possible employee then I know the rest of the team will also.

You are being hired for your skills but also your personality, most people forget the latter.

10 inaminit February 20, 2008 at 2:33 pm

“Here are few things we can all do go give a killer first impression.”

“…do GO give…”

Well you blew that first impression.

11 Ed O'Keeffe February 20, 2008 at 2:35 pm

A good, genuine SMILE is one of the most important things in my opinion of making a good first impression :)

12 jcorn February 20, 2008 at 3:10 pm

I agree with so many of these tips. In this day and age, making a good impression is more important than ever. Manners and common sense are so often lacking!

13 jimothy February 20, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Also, you should always have clothes on, and breathe oxygen. What an enlightening article you’ve pulled together from the most conventional wisdom possible. Keep up the good work, I look forward to the follow-up: How to drink water.

14 Jodie February 20, 2008 at 3:27 pm

I read “Make Yourself SICK With These First Impression Tips” and it reminded me of the time I approached a girl at a bar only to puke all over her immediately after a shot of tequila. We’ve been married for 7 years now.

15 Brad February 20, 2008 at 3:36 pm

i think you missed the point. if you ARE actually listening, then everything else will fall into place.

I think this article should be:

“Why you have a shit job, and how to change that”

Why your job blows: You didn’t fucking listen to anything your interviewer said, you were too concerned with appearing physically fit and nodding to listen to what the hell you were being told. Then your boss realized that you weren’t listening, you just wanted to look like you were, and he through your resume in with the list of other hundreds of people who did the same thing.

Do you think Steve Jobs showed up at his job interview wondering whether he used the interviewer’s name enough times? Is that how great men are made… by using these “cheats” to confuse people into trusting them?

This is bogus.


16 mateo February 20, 2008 at 3:47 pm

Umm, Brad- Steve Jobs didn’t have to interview for his job. Just to let you know.

17 Alan Reid February 20, 2008 at 3:50 pm

I think you are the “bogus” one Brad . Firstly – swearing NEVER impressed anyone; Secondly – YOU CAN’T SPELL!! To quote you – “and he through??? your resume” – I think NOT. It should be spelled “THREW” — MORON!!

18 Rascal999 February 20, 2008 at 4:21 pm

All this is good and all, but don’t forget to be yourself!

Don’t fake who you aren’t.

19 John February 20, 2008 at 4:26 pm

All of this would not matter without optimism, remember to smile!

20 BORG February 20, 2008 at 5:42 pm

Bring beer.

If they don’t like it, you wont enjoy working with them.

If they like beer and you don’t bring any, they will look for someone who seems to like beer.

21 shazzam February 20, 2008 at 5:43 pm

Though this seems like a “Thank you, Captain Obvious” kind of article to me, there are some people who just don’t get it. Some people just don’t have people skills, or aren’t willing [able] to follow the unspoken social “scripts” when conversing with someone. I had an ex who used to act like an interrogator when she met people for the first time. She’d blow cigarette smoke in people’s faces and drill them on where they worked, what they did for fun, where they went to school, etc…she was just really blunt and preferred to skip the small talk.

For interviewing, the key is to go in with confidence. When you’re confident, everything else falls into place. You can actually focus on being a normal human being rather than worrying about what to say, how many times to establish eye contact, or whatever…so rehearse a few common interview questions, practice talking about your past employment history (using quantifiable examples of what you accomplished), and verbalize (aloud!) why you’re a good fit for the job——before you actually sit down for the interview (duh).

22 lollerkeet February 20, 2008 at 6:47 pm

“However, avoid overusing a person’s name.”

I work in sales. We sometimes play a game involving trying to use the customer’s name as much as possible. It is very hard (you feel like an idiot) but disturbingly effective – the number of sales you get doing it is shocking.

23 Brett McKay February 20, 2008 at 6:59 pm

@ shazzam- Exactly. This stuff is common sense. But it surprises me how many people don’t have these skills. I agree that confidence is the key to success in an interview. If you’re confident, you don’t have to worry about doing this stuff in the post because you probably already to them naturally

@ lollerkeet- I’ll have to remember that. Personally, I start to get annoyed when people overuse my name when I’m talking with them. Maybe because it’s a tip that they’re trying to sell me something.

@ rascal999- You’re right. Being yourself is key. hopefully these tips can help you be your “better self.”

@ ed- Thanks for reminding us to smile.

@ bob- I’ve known lots of people who try too hard to be funny in interviews or when they’re first meeting people. Always backfires.

24 Syd February 20, 2008 at 8:30 pm

Nothing on mirroring?

25 Ganesh February 21, 2008 at 1:23 am

“Be yourself!”

26 alphapage February 24, 2008 at 2:13 am

Back to the manliness issue…

In interviewing I find that nothing gets you to the short list of candidates more effectively than establishing a subtle sense of fraternity with the fellow interviewing you. In today’s p.c. world this can’t be done overtly or in a exclusionary/discriminatory fashion, but that subtle hint that you’ll be a good man to fit into the team, get the work done, and perhaps have a beer with after a big project can be important to a lot of people.

How to do this is tricky. If you’re experienced in the field, give some examples that show you’ve been through some of the same things as they have. If a friend works there, offer a quick (appropriate) quip about your history. I’d say that it’s sort of like getting a drink at a new bar.

27 Video Youtube >>>>>>>>>>> March 1, 2008 at 4:34 am

Thanks for reminding us to smile.

28 Besplatne Stvari March 1, 2008 at 4:34 am

How to do this is tricky. If you’re experienced in the field, give some examples that show you’ve been through some of the same things as they have. If a friend works there, offer a quick (appropriate) quip about your history. I’d say that it’s sort of like getting a drink at a new bar.

29 Greg March 9, 2008 at 10:07 am

Writing (not on Word_ the thank-you note NOT as an e-mail, using real paper. A package of Crane linen or bond isn’t all that expensive as are not the envelopes.

In this day of digital everything something via snail mail, a hand written letter via snail mail will make one stand from the crowd.

Save the cute toys, internet slang and lingo for face-book. I actually got one e-mail saying I was the “snizzle.” While I thought the applicant was “hire-able” that one word took him out of the running. Am I a snob? Possibly, but why would I want to hire someone that wouldn’t fit into my department. He can go off and become Snoop Dog after work.

30 Greg March 9, 2008 at 10:12 am


Also look around the office, if you see hockey memorablila and you’re a hockey fan, mention something to bond over that. Even a rival team, say you’re a Rangers fan and the interviewer is a Flyers fan, you’ll have something to break the ice.

Same with those with Military insignia, even something as innocuous as a picture of their family at Disneyland, the dog doing something cute.

The idea is not only to break the ice but to make the interviewer see you as human and a potential interesting and nice person. Over the years I’ve hired less qualified people because I’ve connected with them. A Harvard degree doesn’t make for an interesting person – if I’m spending a good portion of my life at the office I would like it to be with pleasant (for the most part) people.

(disclaimer – I’m not picking specifically on Harvard, honest.)

31 March 10, 2008 at 7:05 pm

Humor. Generally avoid, I’d say.
-Can be a very dicey proposition. If you really see rapport, especially if They start to mirror you, or there’s nodding, can work Really well if done lightly.

However, I’ve had it blow up more than once. There are some interviewers out there with no soul, apparently.


32 Jason March 22, 2008 at 7:31 pm

Company knowledge

I interview people for a major company, and I would say that one of my biggest things is how much do the people I’m interviewing already know about the company. If you come in blind, and not knowing what you’re getting in to, they’re likely to pick up on that. When someone I’m interviewing doesn’t know much or anything about the company, I tend to think that they’re not really that interested in the job. However, if you come in with an already developed, healthy knowledge of the company, they’re going to be impressed by that. It will show that you’ve done some research, and that you’ve come in prepared.

33 Nalle Puhelin May 16, 2008 at 5:52 am

According to the html header the text should be encoded as UTF-8 but appears to be ISO-8859-1 instead. I find this rather unprofessional and definitely not manly.

34 Rich May 27, 2008 at 10:42 pm

I’ve been on both sides of the interviewing desk a fair amount, and would agree that a surprising number of people don’t know these basics. I’d like to nod enthusiastically at a couple of points brought up in the comments. Do know something about the organization and department you’re interviewing in. This is very basic! When I’m talking with someone and it’s clear we are just another place in which the applicant is giving their standard spiel, that’s it, I just want the interview over as soon as courtesy allows. And don’t overuse my name–of course call me by name, but not stuck like a clove in an orange in every sentence. As Brett suggested, it brings on the salesman vibe awfully fast.

In general, I think a lot of what goes into a successful interview–assuming that you have the qualifications, or close to them–is building rapport without obviously using rapport-building techniques. No one likes to be confronted with the fact that they’re being manipulated (see the salesman vibe). I think this is more likely to happen if you have been, long before you sent in your resume or started a job search, cultivating genuine interest in other people. If you go in with that basic attitude and there is still no rapport, then that’s a good sign that the organization is not for you. Even in these hard economic times, you’re interviewing them as well as vice versa.

Oh, and one more particular thing: Assume you’re being observed as soon as you come in sight of the employer’s front door, and treat everyone you encounter with courtesy, kindness, and respect. If you’re a gentleman you already know to do this. And the kind of organization that you want to work for will notice and value such things.

35 Tony June 23, 2008 at 9:19 pm

All good tips, although they are common to other sites. I liked the last tip about asking the interviewer personal questions that relate to the company. I will definitely be using that one.

36 Vicki August 8, 2008 at 5:57 am

I’d like to add one important point. BE NICE TO EVERYONE YOU MEET IN THE ORGANIZATION!

I worked as a front desk receptionist for a construction company for a while. They decided to do some hiring. They handed me a stack of blank applications and told me to give one to everyone who came in to apply. The potential employees filled them out while waiting in the lobby then gave them back to me.
I was supposed to write my first impression of them in the upper corner before setting them up for the interview. I was supposed to also say whether I would be comfortable if this person came into my home to do some work.

I gave a good review to most of the people, but there were a couple of guys who were extremely rude. They were upset because they were not going to be interviewed that same day and thought that by being rude they would get their way. Little did they know it probably cost them their chance at the job.

You never know who has a say in whether you get hired or not.

37 melina December 14, 2008 at 5:54 pm

Very good tips, I would also consider the importance of making eye contact :-)

38 Marcus December 26, 2008 at 5:12 pm

These are all great posts that definately make a difference. I’d like to recommend one more, which may be extreme… but in this time any edge helps. I used pheromones at my last job interview… and got the job. Pheromones work because they create trust at a sub-consious level. There are sites that offer free pheromone samples… I recommend getting some for your next in person interview.

39 Jon the Columbus Seo January 29, 2009 at 1:38 pm

I don’t really think there are rules. It all depends on who you’re talking to. If someone wants me to kiss their butt for a sale then they can kiss mine. That’s not me and I don’t associate myself with people like that. I would rather lose the sale and move to the next person. Because the needy customer will always cost you more in the long-run.

40 Chris March 3, 2009 at 9:11 am

I always find it odd that interview tips miss one extremely important point: YOU are also interviewing THEM.

I go into an interview with the attitude “Why would I want to work here?” I have valuable, marketable skills and so I not only mirror my interviewer, but I also push them a bit to find out what makes this such a great place to work.

Interviewers can sense confidence, and if you walk in with your hat in your hand and an attitude of deference, I think it hurts your chances more than it helps.

If you’ve got good skills, make THEM impress you, not the other way around. I’ve never felt the need to prove myself excessively to an employer, as I generally receive several job offers within a short timeframe.

It’s a potential business arrangement, and you should realize that you are on equal footing with the potential employer.

I once had an interviewer drill me mercilessly, making unreasonable requests and trying to test my technical skills on subjects that are difficult to demonstrate, and even having the gall to question me about their proprietary internal products! After about 10 minutes of grilling I stood up, shook his hand and said, “I’m sorry, this isn’t the opportunity I’m seeking. Thanks for your time.”

The interviewer backpedalled rapidly, apologizing profusely, but I just nodded, repeated myself, and left.

Do this once in your’ll boost you up tremendously!

41 Elaikae Blackhall November 28, 2009 at 2:33 pm

These are very good tips to be used in everyday conversations… I do get introduced to multiple people, I admit, I am not the greatest at first impressions unless I am at a dinner party and dressed up… But I did notice your symbols for apostrophes are a bit incorrect, as they are not even apostrophes… Thank you for the tips…

42 Brian Parramore March 2, 2010 at 1:54 am

The handshake is very important in making a first impression. Firm, not trying to squeeze their bones together. Always look a man directly in the eye during a handshake, as this shows proper respect and shows you’re serious. This article is very informative to those who are lost, or for those of us who had to learn how to be a man on our own.

43 TX Moose August 11, 2010 at 9:27 am

There are many, many great comments here about interviewing and conversational etiquette. However the article is about FIRST impressions. People as a whole, base these first impressions with their senses, sight, hearing, touch, smell. We are engaged, many times, by what we first see or hear, not by the experience of what comes after. Your FIRST impression is the way you have dressed, your confident and sincere smile as well as your handshake, and clear speaking all add to your first impression. From that FIRST impression, the person is then engaged from there on, You can be properly dressed, look confident and give a great smile and handshake, but if you forgot to brush your teeth and breathe your dragon breath as you speak, your FIRST impression is going to make the person reluctant to engage in conversation with you. And if you tried to cover it up with cologne, and you are trying to impress the person by using their name 50 times, and you ask them 10 questions about their interests…can you see how your FIRST impression tainted the rest of the experience?

Remember… first is FIRST. (Yes- I am being captain obvious).

44 Bone April 29, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Brett, you are right. Many people forget or ignore these simple concepts. Considering the article took about two minutes to read, it’s a worthy reminder.
For those who have to rip on this article just to feel better about yourselves, well, don’t be dicks, be men!

45 Jazzy June 10, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Always, email the person after the interivew and thank them for thier time. This will put you back in thier mind, and they will think you are a class act.

46 Ben July 24, 2013 at 4:39 pm

The handshake tip is a really good one, I still remember the last time I had a really good handshake. A good handshake can take you a long way in life and really make people remember you.

47 Sean August 1, 2013 at 9:32 am

I made sure to read all this before an interview I had yesterday and the interview went great! With the same exact credentials I’ve had employers turn me down without a bat of the eye; but yesterday my interviewer said I would be successful no matter where I apply. Must have done something right!

48 Matt September 19, 2013 at 11:40 am

Every job that I have applied for I have gotten an offer for – even if I ended up not working there. One thing that I have learned to do is to simply act confident. Go into the interview with a plan and stick to it. I always research a company before applying for a position so that I know what kind of things will be brought up in the interview.

When asked specific questions sometimes I will reply with, “That’s a great question…) and then continue with my answer. It goes into the whole shining the spotlight on the other person thing. People like to know that they are asking god questions. I am also not afraid to “think” about something for a little bit. For example, if asked a tough question I will think for a few seconds before answering. I think about how to word my answer sometimes. I also think about what they are asking and why they are asking that question. Thinking makes them know that you think things through rather than just react.

49 Nasser Albarqan February 9, 2014 at 2:54 am

Actually, the title tend to describing how to adopt or gain these steps and become part of your behavior, so you will get the chance to passing the job interview.

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