How to Impress an Impressive Person

February 24, 2010

I have a job interview on Friday.

That’s got me all keyed up on making a good first impression.  I asked everyone on Twitter last night, “What’s your best tip for nailing a job interview.”

The most popular response was, “Be yourself.”  That was then amended with, “Be yourself, as long as you aren’t a jerk.”  I’ll try to remember that, thank you.

I think the official timeframe to make first impressions is something like seven seconds.  I’ve been trying to figure out how I’m going to list all my amazing qualities in the first seven seconds of the interview.  But it also got me thinking about all the awkward meetings and bad first impressions I’ve recieved from other people.  So I thought I’d help you the next time you need to nail a job interview, ask a beautiful person for a date, or impress me the first time we meet.

Three Ways You Can Impress Me

Put some clothes on, for crying out loud!
No, your ripped jeans and soiled muscle shirt do not count, unless you are attending a Kevin Federline impersonation contest.  And if you are, I have nothing to say to you.  Now, I love casual days at work.  But has it struck anyone that a lot of people don’t know how to dress up anymore?  I never, never have to be worried about being underdressed when I go out in public.

Every once in a while, like on anniversaries, I’ll take my wife out for a fancy dinner, and we’ll dress up.  It’s fun because we like to pretend once a year that we are high society.  Without fail, we’ll be at our restaurant of choice, only to be seated next to some hipster who must think he’s at Golden Corral, with his ill-fitting skinny jeans trying to hide his butt and a stocking cap perched precariously on the back of his head in the middle of July.

Okay, that totally sounded like a crotchety old man yelling at the teenagers on his lawn.  But then there’s this: I did a funeral last year.  Everyone dressed up.  Well except the cousins who showed up after the whole deal was over.  They were sporting their best funeral cut off shorts and armless T-shirts.  And whatever aftershave he was wearing smelled as if it was made with bits of real panther, but not in a good way.  I felt bad that a grown man didn’t know what was acceptable for a funeral.

For real.  You probably don’t have to dress up more than twice a year.  But make sure you can if you need to.

Don’t make me touch that
There is nothing more disheartening then dealing with someone who doesn’t know how to shake hands.  It literally ruins my day.  This is baffling to me, as there is probably nothing we get more practice at then handshaking.  It’s not like it’s dunking a basketball.  Why be a failure at something you’ll do for the rest of your life?

Guys, if meeting me makes you sweaty, wipe your hands off.  Don’t grab my fingers before I have a chance to grip your whole hand.  That makes it look like I’m the one who doesn’t know how to shake hands.  You do have bones in your hand, right?  Because it feels like tapioca pudding.  I don’t shake hands with tapioca pudding.  I eat it as a delicious snack.  My grandma has a firmer handshake then you, and she has late-stage osteoporosis.  That baby over there covered her hand in spittle before shaking my hand, and it was better than yours.  Look at me son!  Don’t look at my shoes!  My dog looks at my feet when he shakes my hand, and his paw isn’t nearly as sweaty as yours!

Are you going to say something?
I’m here to help you.  There are so many people who just do not know the art of conversation.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been talking with a new acquaintance…

…I’ll ask them what they do.  They answer in three words…then silence.  I’ll ask them how they got into it, something open ended that should encourage dialogue.  They answer in two words…silence…

If you don’t think you’re that interesting, but you don’t want awkward silence, then either pretend you’re an Olympic curling champion, or ask me a question.  I’m a very interesting person, as you will find out.  I am very important.  I have many leather bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.

Having a conversation is really easy because everyone talks about the same things: work, home, hobbies.  A good conversationalist hardly says anything about himself because he’s too busy acting enthralled with his new friend’s life.  Everyone thinks you’re really friendly when you ask a lot of questions because they think you’re interested in them!  (It is better if you are sincere.)

When I’m confronted with a bad converser, I end up struggling to fill the silence, which is awkward and it makes me look like the bad talker.  I should just wait for the other person to respond, even if we stand there all night in silence.

Those are my top three things.  What about you?  What bad habits do people have that ruin the first impression for you?  What are your secrets for making a good first impression, or nail a job interview every time?