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8 Swift Judgements That Are Made When People Meet You Within Seconds

8 Swift Judgements That Are Made When People Meet You Within Seconds

According to recent studies, people are inclined to form an impression of one another within just seven seconds of meeting them. So whether you are meeting a new boss, colleague or a potential buyer for your home, you have a limited amount of time in which to create a positive impression and influence favorable perceptions.

During this relatively brief period of time, people are likely to forge a number of important and specific judgements about your personality traits, values and level of success. Psychologists refer to this as “thin slicing,” and the impressions formed within nine to 10 seconds of meeting someone can be difficult to correct or override.

With this in mind, here are ten swift and initial judgements that individuals make when they first meet you.

1. If you’re trustworthy

Let’s start at the beginning, as research conducted at Princeton University has revealed that people determine the trustworthiness of others within a tenth of a second of meeting them.

This result was achieved by comparing two groups of students, one of which had 100 milliseconds to rate the competence, likeability, aggressiveness and trustworthiness of an actor based on their face. The second group had an open-ended amount of time to rate the same faces, and while the responses varied across three of these traits trustworthiness was ranked the same by both.

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These findings seem to confirm that the human brain automatically responds to visual stimulus when assessing trustworthiness, before an individual’s face has been consciously perceived.

2. If you’re confident

This is another of the eight unconscious impressions that are formed within seconds of meeting someone, and it is usually influenced by individual mannerisms and body language. Much of the data to support this was produced during a a famous communications study by UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian in 1971, with these findings remaining true to this day.

As human beings, we tend to evaluate confidence based on the way in which people walk and first initiate contact with others. Individuals who walk upright and with a purposeful gait give the impression of self-assuredness, for example, as do those who carry their head high and maintain eye contact.

Conversely, people who place their hands in their pockets or behind their back showcase a lack of confidence or certainty in their own ability.

3. If you’re high status

While it is well-known that the way we dress influences people’s perception of us, there has been less research into the precise impact that high-end, designer clothing has in the minds of others.

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This has been explored in a recent Dutch study, however, which found that people wearing brand name clothing were considered to be higher in status than those who wore non-designer attire. While this may not come as a huge surprise, it is interesting to note the difference in clothing did not impact the perceived attractiveness and kindness of the subjects.

This seems to suggest that the impression is formed simply from the visual impact of the clothing and the perceived link between wealth and social standing.

4. If you’re successful

On a similar note, the findings of a collaborative study between Britain and Turkey also draw a strong correlation between the clothes that we wear and our perceived success as individuals.

More specifically, it showed the participants images of men in tailored suits for just five seconds, before presenting the same individuals in off-the-peg garments. Despite the body shapes and faces of the individuals being the same, the group overwhelmingly rated those in tailored suits as being the more successful. These findings also seem to reaffirm the link between wealth, clothing, and our social standing.

For anyone with the financial means who is attending a job interview or an important business meeting, tailored suits therefore offer the most effective way of forging a positive impression.

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5. If you’re extroverted

While there are numerous physical factors that underpin body language, the handshake remains the most well-researched and discussed. Perhaps the most in-depth study was carried out at the University of Alabama, having been commissioned in 2000 and subsequently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

This study revealed that a confident and firm handshake correlated strongly with specific character traits, including “openness to new experiences” and, most tellingly, extroversion. So those with a strong and purposeful grip convey openness and an overt sense of confidence, whereas those who do not give off feelings such as anxiety, uncertainty, and in some extreme instances, neuroticism.

The importance of a firm handshake has also been discussed in research papers, with a study conducted at the University of Iowa revealing that this has a greater influence than dress or appearance when forging an impression.

6. If you’re smart

We have already referenced the importance of eye contact when giving the impression of strength and confidence, although this also influences the way in which your intelligence is perceived. According to a 2007 study conducted by Loyola Marymount University Professor Nora A. Murphy, the ability to look your conversation partner directly in the eye is a key indicator of mental aptitude and smartness.

In her research paper, she wrote, “Looking while speaking is a key behavior. It significantly correlated with IQ and contributed to higher perceived intelligence ratings.” Additional findings also revealed that the ability to speak clearly and expressively was also important, as was the use of grammatically sound language. It is also believed that it is easy to create a false impression of intelligence, simply by manipulating these proven metrics.

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7. If you’re dominant

Over time, popular culture has challenged the perception of baldness and afforded it a strong association with physical and mental fortitude. Bald Hollywood icons such as Bruce Willis and Vin Diesel have played a pivotal role in this transition, with their portrayal as tough, masculine, and physically dominant heroes extremely influential.

This is also supported by a number of modern day studies, which indicate that bald men (or more specifically those who have shaved their heads) are rated as more dominant than others with a full head of hair. These individuals are also seen as being taller and stronger than their authentic selves, enabling them to make a positive and potentially misleading first impression on others.

It is important to note that these findings highlighted a clear distinction between shaved heads and those who were naturally bald; however, anyone who is beginning to lose their hair may benefit from being proactive and removing it intentionally.

8. If you’re adventurous

There are a number of fascinating and unique travel experiences available in the modern age, from building igloos in the French Alps to Husky tours in Finland. These trips require a freedom of spirit and a keen sense of adventure, and according to research, it is possible to judge if others have these characteristics within seconds.

Thanks to the findings of a study conducted at Durham University, we can surmise that there is a strong link between the way in which people walk and their underlying sense of adventure. During the research, participants were shown brief video footage of 26 other students walking. Some of these had loose, fluid gaits, while other moved in tighter, less expressive movements.

After just a few seconds of viewing, the former were categorized as being slightly extrovert and adventurous, while the latter were labelled as anxious and potentially neurotic.

Featured photo credit: Greyer Baby – Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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