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How to Recover from a Terrible First Impression

Post Author Stephanie Myers
Apr 29, 2013 11:46:00 PM
Career Tips

You finally scored that interview you’ve been hoping for, and everything goes well, until… oops! Something awful happens, and you feel like you‘ve wrecked your road to possible employment. First impressions are everything, and now recovering seems unfeasible. What now?

The good thing is turning around a bad impression is possible, but first you have to figure out exactly what didn’t go as planned. Arriving late, telling an out-of-place joke, or even how you introduce yourself are just a few mishaps that are common in bad first impressions. Regardless of why your interview turned awry, you can recover by completing the following steps:  

1. Reconsider Your Appearance

Though no one wants to admit it, appearances do influence first impressions, so it is necessary to look as professional as possible without losing your own personality. Consider how others’ perceive you, including your wardrobe, tone of voice, and body language. Try making eye contact, smiling, and uncrossing your arms; these gestures can help you appear more welcoming. Since 93 percent of a person’s opinion is based on non-verbal input, reassessing your appearance is crucial to understanding why your first impression didn’t go well and how you can present yourself in future meetings.

2. Apologize and Proceed

Everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes bad first impressions are due to honest slip-ups.  Maybe you incorrectly made assumptions, confused someone with your interview, or unintentionally chatted about a touchy topic. Just apologize for your blooper, as most employers understand genuine mistakes.

You can also send a note afterwards and apologize again if you feel the situation needs further attention.

3. Demonstrate Your True Character

The majority of bad first impressions are caused by misconceptions of your personality traits. For instance, if you are a naturally introverted person, your shyness may appear as rudeness. On the contrary, an aggressive behavior can seem domineering. In any case, evaluate how you respond to interview questions.

4. Be Sincere

First impressions can quickly be ruined, especially by deceitfulness. Say you’re running late; instead of concocting a fictitious tale, be honest about why you were late and apologize as soon as possible. If the meeting can continue, make the most of your time with your new contact. If you completely missed the meeting, apologize and ask if a future meeting is possible. Most importantly, be conscious and considerate of your interviewer’s time.

5. Avoid Overcompensation

The best piece of advice is to always be you. Recognizing flaws is one thing, but refrain from overcompensating. Don’t change your character to overcorrect a terrible first impression. If this interview led you to desire a change in your personality, it may be better to walk away and search for better-fitting employment.

No one enjoys experiencing bad first impressions, but these incidents do allow us to learn from mistakes and perfect our interviewing skills. Once you can recognize what mishaps occurred, you can almost always make up for them by following the steps above.

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