Interviews and the Power of First Impressions

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Guest post by Brad Remillard

Next up in the Catapult Groups Webinar Series is “Advanced Interviewing: Eliminate Embellishment and Exaggeration” on December 19th, presented by executive recruiter Brad Remillard. Together with partner Barry Deutsch, Brad founded IMPACT Hiring Solutions in 2004, focusing on executive search and best practices hiring workshops. Over a career spanning more than a quarter-century, Brad has conducted more than 10,000 interviews and has been directly involved in over 2,500 executive searches. In the first of three parts, Brad shares some valuable insights into hiring the right executives for your business.

When it comes to interviewing candidates for high-level positions, one thing impacts the process more than anything else. That’s the power of first impressions.  Few things influence the interview more than the interviewer’s first impression of the candidate.

Often this first impression will drive the interview. It can set the tone for the session, even before it officially begins.  A strong first impression can result in an easy interview with softball questions. A negative first impression may result in a difficult or very brief interview, since the interviewer has already made the decision that this isn’t the right person (before they’ve even left the lobby).

I suggest training yourself and your managers to be aware of the power of the first impression. Everybody has first impressions. With thousands of interviews under my belt, I still have first impressions. Only a robot wouldn’t have them. The issue is—how do we deal with them?

I have learned that I have to set aside my first impression, positive or negative, and still conduct a probing in-depth interview. At the end of the interview, I revisit my first impression to determine if it’s still valid. Over half the time I discover that initial impression is not valid. Not only can the candidate do the job, but she has such great strengths she was able to overcome any negative first impression. Don’t lose a great candidate for the wrong reasons!

It all goes back to getting your managers properly trained. Teach them to set aside their first impressions, conduct thorough, in-depth interviews, and then decide if the first impression is still valid. This “trick” will dramatically improve your hiring process.

Please register for “Advanced Interviewing: Eliminate Embellishment and Exaggeration” on Dec 19, 2012 10:00 AM PST.

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Brad Mishlove