Talking First Impressions With Our ESAs

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Interviews With OFE Staff

First impressions matter, especially in your job search. Whether you’re networking or coming in for an interview, what you say and how you act towards the people around you are things to be mindful of.

We already know to put our best foot forward in the presence of “big players” like managers and recruiters, but what we may forget is the role other employees play in the hiring process. Many interviewers are now asking their front desk staff what the applicant was like outside of the interview room, and they take that into consideration when making their final decisions.

Our Employment Services Advisors (ESAs) are ready to greet you with a smile when you walk in. Some of them have been in roles outside of OFE where they had to really pay attention to first impressions. They agreed to share their experiences and insights around bringing your best self to any situation.

Without further ado, let’s get on with the interview!

What’s the first thing you notice about someone when they walk in? How does that affect your view of him/her?

Bea: Appearance. Usually it doesn’t affect my view of him/her unless it’s really distracting. As the saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover”.

Miracle: The first thing I notice about a person is their facial expression then their voice or tone of language.  I believe first impressions are very important. Studies show they’re long-lasting.

Alexia: I definitely notice their demeanour right off the bat! Whether or not they appear approachable and if they seem open to conversation.

Aira: Other than their clothing, it’s actually their facial expression for me. When they come in and they look apologetic, maybe they look shy or unsure, I think, “I want to help you.” If they come in and they look like they don’t want to be here, I feel hesitant to help because I don’t know what to expect.

Interesting that you all notice non-verbals first! I think people underestimate how much they communicate when they’re not talking, which is why a smile goes a long way. Do you think a person’s attitude or behaviour affects the overall interaction?

Bea: ​​I think a person who has a good attitude to whomever they’re speaking with will get a much better experience from the interaction than if they were not friendly. The person on the other side of the encounter may be more willing to go the extra mile if the person they’re talking to has a good attitude or behaviour.

Miracle: A person’s attitude or behaviour can affect the tone of the interaction. If what’s perceived is negative, there may be tension, which can lead to miscommunication.

Alexia: It can and it does!

Aira: I think so, and how they talk is important. When they’re starting to be rude that’s when I feel more overwhelmed or my tone changes to something more monotone or strict. If they’re happy or excited, my tone matches that too.

In most cases we receive the energy we give. One thing to note is people are more likely to remember you if you made them feel good after the conversation! What are your thoughts about people being on their phone while talking to you?

Bea: Unless they need their phone to get information I asked from them, they should not be using it. I believe it’s a show of respect when you’re giving your full attention to the person you’re speaking with (because they’re also giving you the same attention and respect).​

Miracle: I discovered it can be distracting when people are on their phone. As an ESA we are dedicated to providing an excellent customer service experience, however, the effort the person puts in to respond or engage, either positively or negatively, is also an important part of the interaction.

Alexia: For me this one really depends on the situation. If you’re waiting for an interview, I’d definitely say keep your phone away because not having it makes you appear more present and engaged. If you’re in a public place interacting with more than one person, I don’t think it’s a huge deal as long as you’re not glued to it. 

Aira: If you’re scrolling through your phone for appointment information, that’s helpful, but I have met people who are on their phone the whole time. In general, I think it’s better to give people your full attention when you’re speaking with them, otherwise you seem rude.

It’s definitely dependant on the kind of interaction you’re having, but the general rule of thumb should be: if you’re speaking with someone one-on-one and you don’t need your phone, put it away. It also makes you seem more confident and memorable when you make eye contact, especially if you’re checking in for an interview. Alright, so to sum it up, what are key things a person should remember to make a good first impression?

Bea: Dress to impress, be friendly to everyone you meet (including the receptionist) and smile 🙂

Miracle: Dress according to the occasion; be confident by displaying positive non-verbal expressions (maintain eye contact and show an inviting and positive body posture); have an open mind (enjoy the learning process in the interaction); and remember to smile…

Alexia: Look approachable, keep conversation light and positive, always begin and end each interaction with a friendly greeting!

Aira: Dress for success, have a positive attitude and friendly smile, and be friendly to staff. If you’re coming for an interview, yes your skills are important, but a lot of times they’re looking more for fit with the company, so those small interactions are super important.

So yes, your first impression matters, but specifically your body language matters. Put simply, potential employers are interested in whether you walk the talk. In some cases an interview begins as soon as you walk through the building doors, so make sure that you’re not only presentable, but also that you carry yourself well. Just like our ESAs said, dress well according to the occasion and try to have a friendly and positive demeanor right from the beginning!

Author: Nelsa Uson, Employer Liaison

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Stay up-to-date on topics that can boost your career, give you a fresh perspective on job searching, and help you meet your goals faster.


Stay up-to-date on topics that can boost your career, give you a fresh perspective on job searching, and help you meet your goals faster.