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 Kirsten Helvey, chief operating officer of Cornerstone OnDemand.
I’ve hired and managed more people than I can count. I’ve watched many of those people grow in their careers and become very successful. Over time I’ve noticed that the most successful people tend to have a key quality in common—they elicit remarkable first impressions that last.
Let’s say it’s your first day at a new job. Before you even set foot through the door, you should know you’ve already made a good first impression. If you got the job offer, you clearly caught the eye of your interviewers. Plus, they most likely shared their experience meeting you with their coworkers. You’re already a step ahead! But that’s just the start.
Making that first impression is important, but so is managing it for the long haul. Here are four things to keep in mind when trying to leave a memorable and lasting first impression:
Prepare a scouting report
Before your interview, or even your first day at work, do your homework. This sounds like a no-brainer, but too many people I interview come in woefully underprepared. Don’t just read the company’s website. Read last year’s major news articles about the company. Read articles about its competitors. Find out who will be interviewing (or managing) you and study their online profiles. If anything, know their titles and what areas of the organization they’re responsible for. Your preparedness and curiosity will undoubtedly make a positive impression.
Don’t feign interest
Many companies will tell you that one of the most important decisions in hiring is whether that person will be a cultural fit. At my company, we describe our culture less by what we do and more by who we are: smart, cool, dependable, and visionary. We look for people who fit that mold.
When you interview, ask yourself: Do you genuinely feel like you’re a match for this company? Do you really have the skills required for this role? If you answer “no” to these questions, then you’re probably not in the right place. So use your interview as an opportunity to vet the company as they vet you. If you don’t feel it’s the right fit, pull out of contention for the job.
Establish relationships quickly
As soon as you get hired, it’s time to get a lay of the land. Find out who you will be working with directly and indirectly and reach out and introduce yourself. To keep the momentum up, meet as many people as you can in those first few days and establish relationships. If you’re young and fresh out of college, walking up to an executive and introducing yourself can seem daunting. But as an executive, I can tell you that when a junior new hire comes up and introduces themselves to me, I am always impressed and will remember that person’s name.
Being new to a job means you must be a sponge. Ask questions. Carry a notebook and jot down everything. Find out how other roles at the company work and begin to make the connections that give you a more holistic view of the business.
In my first job, I was afraid to ask questions because I thought I should already know the answers. That attitude set me back in learning the role quickly and progressing. Your employees will like answering your questions. You get lots of extra leeway when you are starting out—so ask away. Plus, this shows you’re engaged in the job, and your managers will know they made the right hire.
First impressions are important, but it’s even more essential to maintain that impression as time goes on. These lasting impressions will help you to build relationships at your first job. They in turn will help you get your next job, and ultimately define your career.