Why first impressions don't tell the whole story — and 4 ways to combat 'em

difficult conversations

Will Rogers said you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. But here’s why and how HR should try to look past a bad first impression.    
First impressions can be hard to shake – especially when it comes to interviewing job applicants.
In fact, 90% of hiring managers maintain their first impressions of candidates even after they’ve been speaking with them for several minutes.
That can easily influence hiring decisions – and not always for the best.

Beyond the first 10 seconds

Here are some tools to use to help you make a more completely informed hiring choice, courtesy of Suzanne Lucas on Inc.com:

1. Know what you’re looking for.

Take time before interviews to write down exactly what you’re looking for in a candidate. Include notes on what skills are important and what problems your company needs to solve.

2. Take notes.

Write down, in brief, what the applicant says and how he or she responds to your questions. After the interview, use your notes to see how the candidate stacks up against your criteria. This will also help prevent you from only retaining things that support your first impression.

3. Get others involved.

If you test candidates’ skills, like writing or coding, ask an employee you trust to look over the applicant’s work after the interview. It always helps to get a fresh set of eyes. Plus, the employee won’t have been affected by any negative first impressions.

4. Listen for “yes, buts.”

If you hear yourself responding to statements like “Jane has solid experience in marketing and is strong on analytics,” with “Yes, but…” you could be relying on a first impression.
Vague statements such as, “Yes, but Joe seems like a better candidate” can indicate you’re just thinking with your gut – still influenced by those first 10 seconds.