You Never Have Another Chance to Make a First Impression

Your phone rings, and at the other end is XYZ University. They have received your application for a higher ed position and want to interview you! The next few minutes are crucial to your interview success.

First, how do you answer the phone? “Hello?” “John Smith?” “What’s happening, bro?” If you let it go to voice mail, then what does your outgoing message sound like? Do you have your favorite heavy metal song playing in the background? Does the caller have to wait through your five-year-old’s piano rendition of Mary Had a Little Lamb?  Do you use the canned message provided by your voice mail service, or do you use a quick, professional greeting?

Make sure you have your name somewhere on your voice mail greeting, so the caller can be sure s/he has reached the correct person. Make your greeting brief and avoid the unnecessary add-ons.

If you answer the phone, be aware of your tone of voice. If the call wakes you up because you decided to sleep in, it might be best to let it go to voice mail, because it is hard to sound enthusiastic when you are half asleep.

If you are communicating by email, use a professional email address. While you may enjoy making a statement with an email address of, you run the chance of either alienating people who don’t agree with you or just plain confusing people who have no idea what you are talking about. Likewise, check your email signature. If you have a quote, use something fairly innocuous: “Happiness is a warm puppy!” Avoid fancy fonts and colors in your email—they can be hard to read!

This is your first personal interaction with the university, so make the impression a good one. You may not get another chance.

Dindy Robinson is an independent HR Consultant.

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