Study Finds How Long it Takes for Job Interviewers to Form First Impressions — and How They Form Them

Many Americans agree that a great smile and excellent dental hygiene are necessary for making a good first impression with anyone. When it comes to getting the job you’re interviewing for, though, employers are looking at more than simply the job candidate’s smile.

A new study from, which uses data from 273 managers and 3,286 employees concerning their interview experiences, has compiled a list of exactly what managers are looking for in their job candidates. While some of the results may be surprising, much of it confirms what many of us know to be good interview etiquette.

One finding that the survey discovered was that job candidates have exactly six minutes and 25 seconds to make a good impression, as this is typically all the time that interviewers need to determine whether or not an interviewee is a good fit for the job. Those 385 seconds help an interviewer make a variety of other impressions, also.

A good first impression, of course, can certainly lead to a favorable opinion from an employer — and a job offer. Being on time to an interview may sound like common sense, but the numbers back this up: 96 percent of managers base their hiring decisions on this factor.

How an interviewee behaves and what he or she may say during an interview also counts, according to the study. A candidate’s preparation for an interview, meaning how well they understand the job and the company, can influence as many as 93 percent of managers. Additionally, 82 percent of managers agree that a candidate’s ability to hold eye contact can also make a good impression.

Even factors that aren’t essential to an interview can still be a chance for a candidate to help an employer form an impression. The strength of an interviewee’s handshake matters for 55 percent of managers, and up to 60 percent look at the quality of banter or small talk with a prospective employee.

Just like a good smile, overall personal appearance is also crucial to making a great impression on an interviewer for a candidate for as many as 73 percent of hiring managers. Seventy percent state that a candidate’s makeup can impact their first impression, and 62 percent say that dress sense also affects a candidate’s employability. Tattoos, a controversial workplace topic, can turn off as many as 71 percent of employers.

When it comes to making the hire, 36 percent of employers look at a candidate’s work experience, 12 percent look at education, 10 percent consider professional qualifications, and nine percent use references. For 24 percent of employers, the quality of that first impression from the interview is factored in to the hire, as well.

It’s not just employers who use these impressions when it comes to getting a job; as many as 70 percent of job seekers use the first impressions of their interviewers to determine whether or not they want to take a job. They also base it on the interviewer’s handshake (60 percent), the small talk (58 percent), and dress sense (50 percent).

And of course, the study confirms that what you shouldn’t do during an interview remains the same as many know it to be. Having a limp handshake, not knowing about the job or the company, turning up late, smelling bad from B.O. or cigarette smoke, and being drunk or high are all big “Nos” when interviewing.’s interview advice reflects what the study found, in terms of interview preparedness. They also recommend being concise with answers but providing plenty of examples regarding past experience. Maintaining professionalism during the interview is also a must, no matter how “cool” a recruiter can seem.

Courtesy is essential, too, as many professionals recommend writing a thank you note after an interview, too. First impressions are good, but using one final opportunity to make a lasting impression can’t hurt, either.

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