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Job Seekers Have Just 385 Seconds to Make a First Impression

London, 13 June 2014, Job seekers have on average just six minutes and 25 seconds during the first meeting to impress potential employers, according to a new study from Monster.co.uk.

New research from Monster.co.uk reveals employment decisions are made in just over six minutes with tattoos, handshakes and time-keeping important factors in making a first impression.

The research highlights how quickly first impressions are formed and reveals that those early thoughts often make or break a candidate’s chance of getting the job. In fact, employers rank first impressions as the second most important factor (24 per cent) when considering a hire, following only behind work experience (36 per cent) but before a candidate’s education (12 per cent).

Physical appearance does matter when it comes to first impressions and recruitment. Seventy per cent of employers say the way a person applies their makeup impacts on a first impression and more than two thirds (71 per cent) of employers say tattoos would put them off hiring a candidate. Job seekers should also dress to impress as 62 per cent say a candidate’s dress sense impacts their employability.

Corinne Sweet, organisational behaviour psychologist, explains: “We make instant assumptions about people and can judge harshly or form fantasies, based on external factors including: style, tattoos, skin colour and their accent. These impressions can be right or wrong, but candidates should know employers are forming an opinion from the very first contact. Plus, employers should understand that employees are forming their impressions too.
“We should not underestimate how important first impressions are. Of course first impressions need to be backed up by performance, but getting your foot in the door and succeeding during the interview (or even just getting one) is the main challenge these days.”

The research also reveals that most job seekers (70 per cent) are just as likely to be swayed by first impressions when it comes to deciding whether or not to take a job. Some of the most common factors in making a good impression on a candidate include an interviewer’s handshake (60 per cent), dress sense (50 per cent), punctuality (51 per cent), quality of small talk (58 per cent) and make up application (59 per cent).

Punctuality is clearly an issue on both sides of the interviewing table. A candidate’s time keeping is the number one factor influencing an employer’s first impression (96 per cent) followed closely by the amount of prep a candidate has done (93 per cent), their ability to hold eye contact (82 per cent) and their personal appearance (73 per cent).

Andrew Sumner, Managing Director of Monster.co.uk in the UK and Ireland, explains: “In an incredibly competitive job market, this demonstrates how important getting the basics right are at an interview. The guidance from the research for job seekers could be summed up by the three Ps – be Prompt, Prepared and well Presented.”
“It also highlights that candidates are sensitive to first impressions too. Those involved in the recruitment process have to be just as attentive and engaged as they expect their employees to be, otherwise they risk missing out on the best talent.”

Highlight research findings


Top things which make or break an interviewer’s first impression:

• A candidate’s timekeeping (96 per cent managers agree this is influential)
• Level of a candidates interview preparation (93 per cent agree)
• Ability to hold eye contact (82 per cent agree)
• Personal appearance (73 per cent agree)
• Quality of banter or small talk (60 per cent agree)
• Strength of handshake (55 per cent agree)

The five most important factors interviewers consider when making a hire are:

• Work experience (36 per cent)
• First impression of the candidate (24 per cent)
• Education (12 per cent)
• Professional qualifications (10 per cent)
• References (9 per cent)

Other factors that influenced interviewers are:

• 71 per cent of employers said a visible tattoo would put them off
• 6 per cent definitely wouldn't hire someone with a tattoo, and 25 per cent would think twice, even with a strong candidate
• 77 per cent say a visible piercing would put them off
• 8 per cent definitely wouldn't hire someone with a piercing and 41 per cent would think twice, even if they were a strong candidate
• 62 per cent admit a candidate's dress sense affects their decision
• 70 per cent of employers said that the way someone applies their make up could impact a first impression

The survey asked employers to give examples of the behaviour that created bad first impressions. The top five worst examples are:

• Limp handshake
• Knowing nothing about the role or the company
• Turning up late
• Smelling badly – either because of body odour or of smoke
• Being high or drunk


The factors that influence an applicant’s first impressions are:
• 35 per cent would turn down a job if they didn't like the reception area
• 42 per cent would be more likely to take a job if they liked the manner of the office receptionist
• 44 per cent admit they'd probably turn down a job if they didn't like the room they were interviewed in
• 50 per cent would be swayed by the interviewer's dress sense
• 51 per cent would turn down a job if they were kept waiting too long in reception
• 58 per cent said banter or small talk is important
• 59 per cent of job applicants said the way an interviewer wore make up could negatively affect their impression of a potential employer
• 60 per cent would be swayed by the interviewer's handshake

- ENDS -

For further information please contact:

Jack Costley or Victor Murthy
3 Monkeys Communications
020 7009 3100

About the research
The research was conducted in April 2014 and included feedback from 273 managers and 3,286 employees or job seekers.

About Monster UK
Monster.co.uk is the UK arm of Monster, the worldwide leader in successfully connecting people to job opportunities.

From the web, to mobile, to social, Monster helps companies find people with customised solutions using the world's most advanced technology to match the right person to the right job. With a local presence in more than 40 countries, Monster connects employers with quality job seekers at all levels, provides personalised career advice to consumers globally and delivers highly targeted audiences to advertisers.

To learn more about Monster UK, visit http://hiring.monster.co.uk or http://monster.co.uk

You can also keep up to date with its news via the Monster UK Facebook channel https://www.facebook.com/monster.co.uk or by following @Monster_UK on Twitter https://twitter.com/Monster_UK.

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