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The Power of Authenticity: First Impressions in Interviews

Two leaders at the interview shaking hands

Crafting a remarkable first impression during a job interview is nothing short of an art form. In the fiercely competitive landscape of today's job market, your initial impact can wield significant influence throughout your interview.

In our most recent poll, we've gathered insights into what truly makes a memorable first impression. Additionally, we've curated practical recommendations rooted in these insights to assist job seekers in their quest for success.

The findings from our poll shed light on some fascinating revelations. Approximately 79% of respondents highlighted authenticity and a genuine smile as the most substantial contributors to a remarkable first impression. A firm handshake garnered the favor of 11% of participants, while 5% emphasized the importance of dressing impeccably.

A Closer Look at the Data

Authenticity Takes Center Stage

It's intriguing to note that authenticity resonated most with our respondents, a sentiment well-supported by research. A Harvard Business Review article underscores authenticity as one of the pivotal elements in successful leadership. [3] When candidates showcase their genuine selves during an interview, they effectively convey their sincere interest in the role and the organization. Furthermore, it signals their comfort with their skills and experiences, indicating readiness to contribute to the team.

Pro Tip: To enhance your authenticity, embark on a journey of self-awareness. Gain a profound understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, values, and passions. Maintain honesty and consistency regarding your skills and experiences.

The Power of a Genuine Smile at the Interview

A genuine smile not only reflects authenticity but also exudes positivity and approachability. Research published in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior demonstrates that smiling during a job interview can profoundly influence the interviewer's perception of a candidate's competence and likability. [2]

Pro Tip: Cultivate a positive mindset and remember to stay relaxed. You might even consider practicing your smile; though it may sound peculiar, it can make the expression feel more natural when nerves come into play.

handshake in the office between two leaders

The Significance of a Firm Handshake

Although only 11% of respondents singled out a firm handshake as a critical factor for a remarkable first impression, it remains a crucial aspect of interpersonal communication. Studies published in the Journal of Applied Psychology suggest that a firm handshake can indicate confidence and professionalism. [4]

Pro Tip: When offering a handshake, aim for firmness without crushing force. Maintain the handshake for about two to three seconds, and do not forget to sustain eye contact throughout the exchange.

Dress to Impress

While dressing to impress garnered the fewest votes, its importance should not be underestimated. According to research by the Association for Psychological Science, individuals dressed professionally are perceived as more competent and trustworthy. [3]

Pro Tip: Investigate the company's culture and align your attire accordingly. Opt for clothing that makes you feel comfortable, paying meticulous attention to details such as well-groomed hair, clean footwear, and minimal jewelry.

Young well dressed leader sitting and waiting for an interview


To sum it up, all these factors collectively contribute to creating a remarkable first impression, with authenticity and a genuine smile taking the lead. The poll results affirm the significance of staying true to oneself, showcasing the power of authenticity, and emphasizing the crucial role of human connection in the interview process.

Bear in mind that creating an exceptional first impression is a harmonious blend of these elements. Balance is key – your authentic self, a positive demeanor, a confident handshake, and professional attire must work in tandem to leave an indelible mark.

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1. Menity Research suite

2. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Pitch changes during attempted deception

3. Harvard Business Review (HBR). Reinventing the Job Interview

4. Journal of Applied Psychology. Exploring the Handshake in employment interviews


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