You have seven seconds to make a first impression.

(What are you saying about yourself and what do you want to say?)

by Lisa Vermaak

Director of Operations at Huddle



You have seven seconds to make a first impression. (What are you saying about yourself and what do you want to say?)

How we communicate is obviously vitally important. The words we choose, the tone of voice we use, the volume of our language, how we listen and so much more. But it is said that up to 93% of what we communicate is non-verbal. So before we even get a chance to say what we’re hoping to say we’ve already said something without meaning to. Or maybe we did mean to. Either way you’re creating an impression almost immediately.

I spoke to Kim Crowley, a professional stylist from StyleSense and she says “we have seven seconds to make that first impression”. That means that by the time you’ve been invited to sit down in an interview the person you’re meeting with has already formed some kind of view about you without giving you the chance to say very much

How you’re dressed, your choice of glasses, how you hold yourself, the look on your face, what you do with your hands can all help or hinder you before you start an interview. How we see ourselves and how the world sees us are sometimes completely different. It makes sense to have an objective, professional opinion to make sure that what we want to communicate about ourselves and what’s actually being communicated are the same thing.

Here are a few simple ways Kim, believes can start you off well if you’re on the road to making the best of yourself and who you are offering to a company, especially in a new chapter of transition and reinvention.

Know your audience

Research & contact their HR dept to discuss appropriate attire for the vacancy, then your interview outfit should be one level up. Your appearance reflects that you understand the culture of the business. Without saying it verbally, you’re telling your prospective employer that you respect their business. Err on the side of conservative dress even in a creative environment. Loud colours or graphics can be polarising, and you give an impression you don’t intend without even opening your mouth. The best route is to “think classic.”

Practical Preparation

This can seem obvious but it’s amazing how it can be overlooked and speaks volumes if it’s done with care. Good grooming is essential so book in a haircut & beard trim, clean your nails and moisturise your face and wear light, flattering makeup. You’re showing you care enough to put yourself together well. Overbearing cologne or perfume can also give off an unintended message as you just never know other people’s preferences – best avoided all together. Clean and polish your shoes or have those heels repaired on your go to Laboutins. Shoes are actually an incredibly powerful part of your outfit as they set the tone. They don’t need to be flashy – just classic and well cared for. You’d be surprised at how often a flashy watch or overdone jewellery says “I don’t really need this job” or intimidates your interviewer. Avoid this by choosing understated and minimal jewellery.

Finally, SMILE!

Photo by Aatik Tasneem on Unsplash

Kim says smiling is the best thing you can wear to communicate how you’re feeling about being in that particular interview. A smile lightens your face, communicates warmth and puts the other person at ease. Appearing too focused, whilst well intentioned, can come across as too intense. Find ways to smile at various appropriate times during the interview in a sincere way - if you look for the opportunity you'll find it.

Consulting a professional executive stylist to advise you on what flatters your physique, what to wear for interviews and how to generally improve your personal brand will give you added confidence in knowing how to present yourself to the world in this competitive market. This is especially important when considering a career transition. Being stuck in our ways in terms of the way we approach interviewing, resumes and all things job related often extends to refusing to let go of those MC Hammer pants that stood you in such good stead in the 90s. A caring and informed executive stylist will be the best person to pry them out of your hands and gently push you towards saying what you really want to say about yourself.

Header Photo by Jonathan Daniels on Unsplash

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