First impressions are priceless and not always face to face

by Kristin Lauderback on March 12, 2013

Just to be clear, I will type it again…”first impressions are priceless. “  

In the almost 9 years I’ve been with Modis I have rarely had the occasion where the manager told me to pick the person I liked best and have them start. When that does happen it’s like winning the lottery.   It’s happened with managers that I’ve filled multiple positions for them over the years but typically the manager wants to interview themselves.  My normal process is to submit my top 3 A+ candidates per opening and then let the manager interview them all and decide.  In January, one of my largest Austin clients came to me and asked if I’d be willing to help them staff a project that was outside of our normal IT focused comfort zone.  I ran the numbers, got all the details on the project and I hit the phones.   I was going to personally pick 24 people to best represent Modis with our client.  The candidates would interview with me and I would decide who to onboard.

I typically am just as picky as any hiring manager I support and I had to bring this to the project.  My client had told me that the reason they were coming to Modis was because of our high success rate on the IT side.  This project had been handled by other vendors previously and their turnover rate was 50%.  I was appalled and if I was going to take on this project I had to do everything in my power to get that number way down and to only submit the best of the best.  I had to take picky to a whole new level.

I want everyone to agree that first impressions are NOT always face to face….. I know that sounds odd, but it’s true.  Before I typically meet a candidate face to face I’ve spoken to them multiple times on the phone and seen their LinkedIn profile if they have one and maybe even have seen their Facebook page.  In some cases, the first impression I get of someone is how their voicemail is set up or even what their email address is listed as. If I call someone’s voicemail and it’s the standard professional greeting they typically get a plus in my book.  When I call someone and their voicemail isn’t set up, or they have some crazy message or some inappropriate song I typically hang up and don’t call back.  See, they made an impression and didn’t even know they were doing so and might have lost out on a good opportunity.  I definitely wasn’t going to email or call anyone with email addresses which weren’t professional.  You’d be amazed how many job seekers have crazy email addresses.  They might as well set up an account that says  Also, when did Glamour Shot poses become the norm for LinkedIn headshots?

So let’s get back to the actual staffing of these 24 positions.  I was on high alert and looking for red flags everywhere.   I don’t want to bore you with all the details but I made them all take an online assessment, drug tested them all, ran their backgrounds, checked references and had them all come in to meet me face to face for an interview.  After the assessment, backgrounds, references and drug tests all came back favorably I started meeting them all for their interviews.  I still had a lot more folks interested then I did positions.  The people I chose were all different but still had a lot of things in common.  I had to figure out who was going to be the most dependable, professional and quite frankly who wanted it the most.  These positions again weren’t IT, they were all going to get trained so there wasn’t a skill set to test on, more of a mindset.

1)    All of my early impressions were positive of them.  I liked the way they interacted with me.  Their online social profiles, voicemails, phone conversations, emails were all very professional and positive.

2)    When they did meet me face to face the ones I chose all showed up early for our interview.  I didn’t choose one person who showed up even one minute late.  If they were going to be late to an interview, they would definitely be late to a job.

3)    They did what they said they were going to do.  If someone was committed to taking the assessment on Tuesday but didn’t take it until Wednesday then I passed on them.  I needed people I could depend on.

4)    They dressed very professionally when coming to meet me.

5)    Everyone I chose knew how to shake a hand and had great eye contact with me.  I didn’t choose one person who limp handed me.  This seems like common sense but we obviously need to add it to our schoool’s curriculum.

6)    They researched Modis as well as my client’s website.  Several people that I really liked over the phone didn’t pass my interview because they didn’t do their homework.  If you can’t research a company before an interview then you’re not serious about getting a position.

7)    They smiled and were kind to me as well as my receptionist.  When someone interviewed and would leave I’d quickly ask my receptionist if they were kind when offered some tea, coffee, water, etc.

8)    They weren’t negative.  Some of the candidates had to drive over an hour to get to my office.  If they complained about the commute, an old boss or even an ex love I didn’t hire them.

Bottom line to job seekers is to always put your best foot forward.  The market is better than it was a few years ago but you still have competition.  Make sure that you always represent yourself in the most positive manner and good opportunities are sure to come your way.

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