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Personable versus perfunctory.

first impressionTwo “P” words that are night and day apart in terms of the impact they make in an initial meeting; a perfunctory response that is matter-of-fact or one that is cordial, filled with warmth and topped off with a genuine smile can have a huge impact on a first impression.

Such a simple thing, a function that does not require great intelligence or enormous energy but can make a big difference in a personal interaction.  Those few seconds when you meet someone for the first time can shape your opinion of that person.

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I see a lot of “perfunctory” in my travels in hotels, restaurants, on airplanes and trains, so much of it that it can make a long day seem even longer.  Their seeming indifference — you are just another person in line or another patron at the dinner table — can be astonishing.

When I encounter personable, my traveling spirits are lifted.  Personable with an authentic smile, a genuine greeting in an effort to connect can, after a long tiring day, be magical.

Job candidates take note:  This applies to you as well.  How I wish more candidates would be less perfunctory and more personable in our first contact.  Of course, I understand the dynamics of a job interview, the candidates are frequently a little nervous and their brain is racing in anticipation of the question and answer session.  So being personable in times of stress takes a little practice and is something most candidates, because of the demands on their time at work and home, often do not think about.

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When I counsel candidates through our Outplacement support service, I ask them to think back to their college days, to when they looked over the final test for the course and immediately knew their preparation had paid off, that they would ace the exam.  Almost everyone who had experienced this feeling said they went through the exam feeling confident and relaxed.  They left the exam site with feelings of happiness and accomplishment.  The hard work and sacrifice to be ready proved successful.

Job interviews are no different.

When you are prepared, you begin and end in a confident place.  You can concentrate on the other factors that can make or break advancing in the search, as in making a personable, warm connection with the person who will be leading the interview.

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Those first impressions can be very powerful.