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University of Illinois Extension

First Impressions

You only have one chance to make a good first impression! A person will size you up in a matter of 15 seconds as you walk into the room! What you wear says a whole lot about who you are, or at least who you are presenting yourself to be. That’s why what you wear to a job interview is important.

First Impressions

Whether you like it or not, the first impression that you make is visual. This means paying attention to every little detail - from head to toe - is important.

Appearance can make the difference in getting or not getting a job. Correct appearance can be your competitive advantage over someone else.

With first impressions, there is no erase button so make certain that the first impression is a positive one. Potential employers size you up based on how you look and how you carry yourself. So, pick the package that says what you want the employer to think: "This person cares about how they look. This person is serious about finding a job."

Do you know how a person evaluates you?

55% body language and appearance
38% verbal tone
7% verbal content


Go to a company or organization where you may apply for employment. Look at their appearance. Ask yourself:

Interview tip

Be positive with positive body language.

You want the interviewer to know that you are open, receptive to conversation, and a willing learner. Positive body language will give the interviewer these positive queues.

Facial expression: Pleasant smile

Hands: Still, relaxed, keep above or on the table or desk.

Eyes: Steady, observant frequent eye contact

Head: Still, straight

Posture: Straight but relaxed spine

Seated: Asymmetrical, sometimes leaning in a relaxed way but straight.

Arms: Avoid crossing arms, this gives a closed out feeling.