Really? Not from what I saw at the shopping centre on the weekend. In fact you’d think it was the season to be cranky. It seems that many people either don’t think about how they are perceived by others or they simply don’t care. But if you are in the job market this is a critical thing to consider. Your behaviour and how you are perceived can be the difference between getting a job or missing out. On a daily basis we send candidates out to our clients to interview for jobs and we remind each candidate of the importance of first impressions. You only get one shot at it so make it count! Here are a few observations of interesting behaviour and impressions made from my weekend excursion.

I observed the first situation as I was asking a Shop Assistant in a department store where to find a particular gift. The lady was extremely helpful and even started walking me to where I needed to go whilst asking me who the gift was for and making some recommendations to go with it. Fine, perfect up-selling 101. She did this in the most pleasant and professional way possible. However little did either of us realise that we were being followed by a disgruntled customer as we navigated our way through the displays across the store.

“Well are you going to stop or do I have to stand in your way!” yelled the customer to the Shop Assistant. At that, both the Shop Assistant and I stopped in our tracks, turned and faced the young lady who was waving her arms around, full plastic and paper bags flailing all around her. “Sorry Miss, I didn’t realise you were following me. How can I help you?”asked the Shop Assistant. “I need to return this stupid dress that doesn’t fit properly and there is nobody serving at the counter. I’m in a hurry and I need to be served now, I’ve got an event to go to and I’m running late”. At this moment the Shop Assistant turned to me and asked if I wouldn’t mind waiting a minute while she served the lady. “No worries, just point me in the right direction and I’ll find what I need, thanks very much” I replied as I started walking away.

But I couldn’t just leave. I was dying to see if this young lady would calm down or keep up her tirade of abuse to the Shop Assistant who was nothing but polite and courteous in return. The two ladies went to the nearest counter and started the return transaction. And yes I admit to lurking nearby pretending to show an interest in the Christmas decorations all around me whilst eavesdropping. It took a good five minutes to complete the transaction during which time the customer huffed, puffed and dramatically sighed whilst death staring the helpful attendant. The Shop Assistant kept her cool and smiled her way through until it was over and the customer stormed off. It was then that the Shop Assistant turned to her colleague and asked “what on earth did I do to deserve that?”

“Oh don’t worry, she’s just a b^%#>!” was the reply.

The second incident occurred as I was leaving the car park. Now I’m not about to get into a discussion on the recent introduction of paid parking, however this new initiative led to car park rage. I was about seven cars back from the boom gate and the lead driver had obviously forgotten to validate his ticket at the machine before getting in his car. Yet instead of giving the car room to reverse and pull over to the side whilst he sorted it out, the second car decided to pull up a close as possible to him, and so did the car behind that, as did the fourth car. It was actually pretty funny to watch. Luckily I didn’t need to be anywhere in a hurry so I could watch this in good humour and observe human behaviour at its most stupid. After several minutes driver number four decided to honk his horn for a full five seconds to make his point. The lead driver then got out of his car, walked as slowly as possible (to make his own point) back into the shopping centre to validate his ticket then ambled back to his car whilst copping a barrage of verbal abuse from cars two, three and four. He climbed in the driver’s seat, opened the gate and drove away. So I ask, what stopped the driver in the second car from offering assistance? And why didn’t he leave room for the trapped car to park to the side and get out of the way? A very different impression would have been left with the lead driver (and myself) if that happened instead.

Although these two incidents I witnessed on the weekend fall way outside the interview context, the key point remains that first impressions count. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the man in the second car had a job interview today and just happened to be interviewed by the man in the first car!

When it comes to interviews and other business meetings, first impressions matter and it is largely your behaviour that creates the impression. So make sure it is a positive one.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all and thanks to those who have supported us this year.

Ben Walsh – General Manager – Qld

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