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How Important is Your First Impression?

I have always been taught that you dress for the job you want, not the job that you have. Over the past few weeks, I have done several interviews for Executive Chefs and Chef / Manager positions, and I have to say, I’ve been very disappointed in the lack of professional appearance of people showing up for interviews.

I understand that times have changed, and even our Senate has downgraded from business attire to a far less formal dress code. Still, I struggle with someone who doesn’t feel it important enough to take pride in themselves, their profession, and what they represent. It’s one thing when a candidate for an hourly position shows up in jeans and a t-shirt, but you should expect more from candidates applying for a management position.

I once had a candidate who was applying for a manager position show up to the interview wearing shorts, sandals, and a t-shirt with his sunglasses pulled up on his head. I was not only aggravated about his appearance but so distracted by his sunglasses that I ended the interview in 10 minutes. I couldn’t tell you if the person was qualified or not, but I do know that the individual did not put value on the importance of professionalism or show respect for the position.

Years ago, someone told me, “Everything your guests see is part of your marketing plan.” So, how is your appearance any different? Isn't that the purpose of an interview, to market and sell yourself as the best candidate for the position? So, why would you not put your best foot forward and present yourself as a competent, experienced professional? Someone capable of running the operation professionally and efficiently.

We’ve all heard the line,

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

According to a UCLA study (2017), 93% of a person’s first impression of you is based on your appearance, facial expression, level of interest, and vocal tone. Other studies have shown that an opinion is formed within a tenth of a second with appearance being 55% and your first words being 38%, while 7% of your first impression are the words you chose words.

What employers see when you walk into an interview is

· You as a professional

· How you see yourself

· Your level of respect for the position and the company you’re applying for

· How you will represent the company

· They formulate an opinion about your work habits

· Most importantly, they calculate a level of your trustworthiness

Many times, a bad first impression will cause the interviewer to shut down, and lose interest in you as a candidate immediately. Once the interviewer has tuned out, it becomes very difficult to bring them back and to see you as a top prospect for the position.

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