First Impressions

It’s an oft-discussed topic. I’ve written on it myself many times. But that doesn’t diminish its importance.  So, today, I’m going to go further and bring second impressions into the equation.

First and second impressions came to mind with all the students coming through our doors over the last few days.  It was their opportunity to make an impression on a wider swathe of college staff – and for many of us it was our chance to make a first impression for them! They, and we, are making judgements; they may be unconscious, but we are still making them.

Impressions are created by a number of things:

  • How you look (dress for the job you want, not the job you have)
  • What you say (and the questions that you ask)
  • Your body language (upright: alert, engaged, interested; slumped: disengaged, disinterested, bored)
  • Eye contact (I’m listening to you; I’m interested in you; you matter)

First impressions are vital. We all make judgements based on them – I know I do.  And I’m going to admit something here: occasionally I’ve been wrong!  I’ve met people that have made a great first impression during an interview; I’ve offered them work.  And then, subsequently, I’ve found that I am wrong. The person that I thought I was employing turned out completely differently when they started on their regular day job.

So that means that if I can be wrong with those first impressions, I must have been wrong in others. Someone may have made a bad first impression, which, had they had the chance, they could have made me rescind. But, sadly, there are no such opportunities.  Once you’ve made your choice, you’ve made it!

Here at the college, we will all have a chance to alter those first impressions, or cement them.  The choice is ours.  We will be together for up to four years (for all those students that go on to achieve their Masters).  But that first impression is like being the first away from the starter’s pistol – it’s for the rest to catch you.  You might be only a few seconds ahead, but races are won by split seconds.

As are selection processes; if you are interviewed for something, that means that there is no doubt that you have the ability to do that job – if you don’t have the qualifications, the skills, the experience, you won’t get through the door.  So that particular race it’s up to you – you can give yourself that head start, or you can spend all your time trying to catch up.


Bruce A J McLauchlan

Manager: Knowledge Exchange Centre

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