How People Lose Jobs Before They Open Their Mouths

Within twenty seconds of meeting a prospective employer, that employer either rated you a 100 and you can only go down from there or they rated you a zero and you have to struggle to get higher. It is a binary decision. You are either yes or no in twenty seconds and you haven’t even said a word.

Researchers say we have a natural “Friend or Foe” instinct that kicks in the moment we see someone. For thousands of years our first encounters with new people weren’t in office settings. We met people on a savannah and started watching them from 100-500 yards or more away.  Worse, as time went on, we came around a corner on a deserted road and there they were, maybe twenty yards away.

In either case, we had to make relatively snap decisions on whether or not the person was a friend or foe. The successful ones, well those are your ancestors.  The unsuccessful ones, those were your ancestors unfortunate friends.

“Poor old Bob,” your ancestor might have said about their friend. “Why couldn’t he see the masked man carrying the spear, the sword might have been a bad guy?”

We are here today because our ancestors made snap decisions on whether or not to like a person in twenty seconds or less. And whether you know it or not, you still make those same judgements today, and so do the people interviewing you. You and I can’t help ourselves.  It is in our DNA.

So think about this the next time you go on an interview.  What are you doing before you open your mouth? What impression are you making.

Next time we’ll compile a list of the things you can do to make that best first impression.


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