First Impressions 101

A Student’s Guide to Making the Best Impact


A Student’s Guide to Making the Best Impact

According to Psychology today, the average person takes seven seconds to make a first impression. That small amount of time can affect a lifetime relationship whether it be for a job or meeting new people. It’s important that you do it right.

Body Language

When first approaching or meeting someone, your body language is important. The majority of people aren’t aware of the way they stand and how it changes the way someone perceives you, or their own subconscious ability to judge body language. When meeting people for the first time it’s important to have confident body language, such as:

  • Shoulders back
  • Chin up slightly
  • Don’t play with your hair or face
  • Keep arms open
  • Eye contact
  • Confident stride; walk with a purpose not hesitation
  • Keep your back straight, but make sure it’s not too straight. Imagine a string attached to the top of your head pulling you upwards. (TIP: The book balancing trick isn’t just for aspiring princesses, try walking with a light book on your head to practice not only your walk, but balance too.)


The way you dress has a large impact on how people first perceive you. Most people use clothing to show their personality, so when meeting someone for the first time it’s important to have an equal balance of your own taste and clothes that give the message you want the people you’re meeting to receive. If you’re going to a interview, dress professional, but with your own twist. If it’s an average everyday meeting, just make sure your clothes express your true personality.


Having a positive expression on your face could determine the outcome of your impression. People want to hire and surround themselves with positive people, so when you meet people for the first time make sure to smile, genuinely.


How you smell can have a large impact on whether or not people want to talk to, let alone be near you again. It might sound obvious, but making sure your breath, and yourself, smell good is very important. Things like perfume or mints can be very useful for these situations. (TIPS: People are more drawn to black pepper scents, so look for perfumes with black pepper in the ingredients. Put Vaseline in the spot where you’re going to spray perfume to make it last longer.)

Don’t start with your name

After greeting someone, don’t say your name. Unless you’re in a business setting, immediately saying your name after meeting someone can unintentionally make you come off as self-centered. The better option is after greeting the person, ask a question about them. It could be about something they’re wearing or the place around you. It’s important to create a connection with someone and consider their feelings before your own. For example, in a business presentation or interview even though you may want to start with your name, you should instead start by asking the company what they want, and the things they need.

The right amount of honesty

When meeting someone for the first time it’s important to be honest in your emotions and your words, but there is such thing as being too honest. Sometimes when meeting new people, we tend to overshare due to nervous rambling. That oversharing quickly turns people off and makes them uncomfortable, and no one wants to be around someone that makes them uncomfortable.


As usual when it comes to anything in life, timing is everything. When approaching someone it’s best to make sure it’s not at a bad time. If you approach them at a bad time, he or she won’t be their best self, thus creating a bad first impression. With things like interviews it’s the other way around, it’s best to schedule them in your best time. You want to show yourself in the best way, make sure the timing coincides with when you feel the most comfortable and the most happy.

Be aware of how you speak

There is no such thing as the wrong way of speaking, but there is such thing as a better way of speaking. Your grammar can determine how someone views you as well. It’s important to speak clearly and stray away from using words such as  “like,” because it unintentionally makes you seem less intelligent, try and be straight to the point when talking, and not beat around the bush.

Stay away from the phone

In this generation it’s very hard for people to put their phone down for a second, let alone long enough to have a face-to-face interaction with someone, but when you are meeting people and especially in an interview keep it out of sight and out of mind. If it buzzes when you’re talking to someone, ignore it. It’s very rude to check your phone during a conversation. If you’re in an interview, your phone should be off completely.

Most importantly, when you meet someone for the first time, the best way to have it go well, is to get rid of judgments entirely. People are predisposed to judge others at first glance, but it’s important to try and sway your mind the other way and remember that everyone has a story and everyone has an off day. First impressions are important, but they are not everything.