It’s risky to start out unprepared.
The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “How do you make a great first impression at work?” is written by Gina Argento, president and CEO of Broadway Stages.
As young professionals enter the workforce, they may feel overwhelmed. After the interview process and landing that job, they wonder how they can make a positive first impression. Social cleansing, wearing appropriate clothing, being polite, and preparing your story are all a good start, and important throughout your career. To me, though, impressing your new colleagues comes down to new hires’ personalities and adaptation skills. Specifically, when hiring, I ask myself, “Will this person understand our office culture and learn to fit in as quickly as possible?”
Every workplace has a different environment, with different dress codes, different office relationships, and different outlooks. For example, my company, Broadway Stages, is fast-paced and philanthropy-focused. We look for individuals who are able to understand corporate culture quickly and adapt. We also expect them to treat their coworkers like family.
Being able to adapt to a new office culture quickly is key. It’s so important that I will often ask interviewees how well they can blend into new work environments.
So how do you adapt to office culture quickly? One way is to have as clear of an understanding of your new role as possible going in. You can do this by thoroughly researching the role before your first day. Sites like Glassdoor and looking over your company’s website can help give you a general understanding of what to expect of your position. If you have any additional questions about your responsibilities, you can speak to human resources or your direct supervisor. By your first day, you should already know as much as you possibly can about what you will be doing, the company, your new coworkers, and what it will be like to work there. Also, being knowledgeable about who’s who going in will help you remember names and titles once you’re there.
Another way of making a great first impression is arriving early and leaving at the same time as everyone else. Over time you’ll learn when people usually come and go, and if you will be expected to work overtime. It’s never a good idea to arrive late or leave early. It is also important to pay attention to how people communicate there: Is it mostly face-to-face, or over email or a messaging service? Communicating in the right way is a vital skill for succeeding at any company.
Probably the most straightforward way of adapting quickly is to be a team player. You can enthusiastically volunteer to do jobs, never badmouth the company, listen actively, and communicate openly. Broadway Stages recently hosted a charity event in Brooklyn that ran after work hours. Even so, many employees wanted to join me at the event. I was overjoyed that they were willing to go the extra mile. If a new employee were to do that, I would be even more impressed.
My final piece of advice: Don’t stress! You’ve already gone through the hard part and landed the job. The chances are that if you were offered the job, then you have already made a great first impression. Now just stick the landing and learn to adapt by utilizing the team player characteristics that you already have or learning them if you don’t.