First day jitters: a fool-proof guide to making a good impression
First impressions count – so make sure you get it right! Don’t worry; our handy guide makes it easy to master the art of making a good first impression.
It’s the morning of your first day at a new job. You’re feeling excited, but you also can’t help but notice your heart pounding in your chest, your hands getting sweaty. Don’t despair – it’s natural to feel nervous in these situations. Luckily, we have some tips to help you nail your first impressions so you can go on to thrive in your new role.
What do people look for in first impressions?
According to Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy, the first two questions people subconsciously ask when they meet someone are, ‘can I trust this person?’ and ‘can I respect this person?’. Essentially, people are looking out for warmth and competence/ability.
In a professional setting, it’s often mistakenly believed that ‘competence’ is given more weight than ‘trust’. However, overall, the ‘warmth’ factor wins out because evolutionarily, knowing who to trust and rely upon helped us to survive.
Luckily, there are things you can do to help enhance how you display these qualities to your new coworkers.
Master the basics
There are a few cornerstones of making a good first impression you need to get right. Consider these fundamentals:
- Always be on time – a good planner
- Dress and groom yourself appropriately for the situation – if in doubt, err on the side of ‘dress up’.
- Always use your manners: please, thank you, excuse me, et cetera.
- Make a point of remembering names and titles.
- Be kind and positive.
- Be organised: bring your laptop, stationery and diary with you – any tools you need to help you look prepared, efficient and ready to go.
No-one likes that person who talks about themselves constantly! Showing interest in the people you meet by asking simple questions is a great way to establish that you are trustworthy. You can also find common ground that will help you to form deeper connections.
Try to listen and pick up cues from people you meet that give you a glimpse into who they are and how you can connect with them. Have they mentioned their kids, their pet, that they’re moving house, that they’ve just been promoted? People unknowingly offer up a lot about themselves that can help you establish a great working relationship from the get-go – you just have to be listening!
Pro-tip: Find genuine reasons to be interested. You will be surprised at how much a bit of authentic interaction will improve your working life.
If you want to appeal to the ‘competence’ metric in the workplace, you need to know what you’re walking into. Research your company, the people that work there, its competitors… any background information that will help you gain a solid foundation of knowledge before you start your new role.
More than anything, this will help you feel confident and prepared – and others will notice! Keep a notepad with vital information so that you don’t forget.
Use your body language and voice
Think about the people you get on well with and trust. What kind of body language do they have? You’ll likely find that the best way to a good impression through body language is to:
- Maintain natural eye contact – without being ‘starey’.
- Smile – it puts people at ease.
- Keep composure – try not to fidget or move around a lot as this reveals you are feeling uncomfortable or awkward.
- Have an open stance: rather than stand hunched over with your arms folded, stand tall, strong and open. It projects confidence and makes you more approachable.
- Speak clearly and confidently, with a steady pace.
Power pose it up
It’s time to harness the energy of a power pose! Before leaving for your first day, practice a ‘power pose’ at home. This is as simple as striking a pose where your body takes up a lot of space and feels strong. Hold it for two minutes. Doing this helps to drop your stress levels and enables you to present a more assured image to those you meet. It might just give you that extra boost you need.
Now with this knowledge, you can go forth and make a fabulous first impression at your new job. Congratulations!