Do you have an upcoming job interview? Or maybe you have a presentation to deliver? What are some ways you can make a stellar first impression that increases your odds of receiving a job offer or winning the business? I recently read the book Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People by Vanessa Van Edwards, author & founder of Science of People. In her national best-selling book, Van Edwards shares some great tips for standing out from your competition in a positive way.

First impressions are a survival mechanism, according to Van Edwards. Your body instinctively reacts when it meets someone and decides if you should stay or flee. In as little as a few seconds, we determine if we like someone or not.

Three ways you can make a stellar first impression

  1. Hand Gestures– According to Van Edwards, job candidates who use more hand gestures in interviews are more likely to get hired. The reason for that is that hands show intention. Back in caveman days, the best way to tell if a stranger had good or bad intentions was to look at their hands to see if they were carrying a weapon or not. Showing your hands confirms trust. You can even use hand gestures when on video. Just make sure that your hands are closer to your body when gesturing.
  2. Eye Contact– Eye contact produces oxytocin, the neurotransmitter which is the chemical foundation for trust. People hire people they trust. The ideal percentage of time to maintain eye contact during interactions is 60-70% of the time.
  3. Maintain an Open Position– When standing or even sitting, make sure your body is in an open position. Sometimes when we feel unsure of ourselves our shoulders turn in, our head is tilted downward and we don’t look confident. People like to hire confident people.

Being memorable boils down to inducing dopamine, the reward chemical, in the other person. Van Edwards says that dopamine is like a post-it note that reads, “Remember this.” When you produce dopamine in another person, you are assigned more significance, increasing your memorability. Try these tips out in your next job interview or your next presentation and let me know how it turns out!


Joan Runnheim-Olson is an Executive Career Coach for Ascend Career and Life Strategies LLC. She has been a career transition and coaching expert for more than 20 years and has been dedicated to her life’s work and passion of helping individuals gain clarity, confidence, focus, and momentum to achieve career success. Through her energy, optimism, and expert career acumen, she inspires others to set and achieve their desired career goals and provides them with a linear, real-world action plan for getting results. 

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