How to impress your boss in 7 seconds

The first moments of a job interview matter the most

Making a good first impression in the office is vital for the sake of your career and it's no surprise that winning over your boss is the best place to start. After all, your manager wields heavy influence on your professional trajectory at a company.

But why is the first impression particularly important? Sylvie di Giusto, keynote speaker and executive branding image consultant, tells CNBC Make It that when people first meet, our brains make about 11 decisions concerning what to think about the other person.

This initial impression, she says, is what leads to "confirmation bias."

Beloved boss Leslie Knope, character on NBC's "Parks and Recreation" played by Amy Poehler, high-fives employee Tom Haverford, played by Aziz Ansari.
NBC | Getty Images

"Confirmation bias makes us look for proof and ignore everything that goes against our initial first thoughts," di Giusto says. "If you see a sloppy outfit, you look for sloppiness in their communication, their work, etc."

This can have a heavy impact on your career, especially in situations like interviews or meeting your hiring manager for the first time. "People want to be right and look for proof of their first initial impression of you," di Giusto says.

To win the battle against confirmation bias, the executive image consultant says that you should follow four steps to ensure that you make a good first impression in seven seconds, which she considers the sweet spot for when people make their first round of "judgments."

Di Giusto calls her four steps the "ABCDs" of making a good first impression: appearance, behavior, communication and digital.


"Appearance is the most important factor because we are visual creatures," says di Giusto.

People look at one another and make mental notes on characteristics such as body image (tall, short, healthy-looking), clothes (style and quality) and even minor things like hairstyle and accessories.

Anything that we see, says di Giusto, can be used to confirm who we are as employees and our professional traits. However, she adds that looking good isn't enough.


"How do you carry yourself?" says di Giusto. "Your body language tells a lot about you."

So does your business etiquette, she says. "Do you shake hands? Look into their eyes? How do you use your voice, which is a powerful tool and instrument?" says di Giusto.

It's important to take all of these behavioral characteristics into consideration in order to portray a confident executive presence, she says.

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope and Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson talking during a scene of "Parks and Recreation."
NBC Universal/Getty Images


Communication is pretty self-explanatory, according to the image consultant. Controlling what comes out of your mouth and how you verbalize who you are is another crucial step in creating a quality first impression, she says.

In an interview setting, this could mean speaking highly of your skills in a self-assured manner or in the workplace making sure that you're careful about the types of jokes that you make to a coworker or your boss.

"The first words of every conversation are the most important ones," says di Giusto.


Di Giusto says that now more than ever, people explore one another through a digital footprint.

"You can't not be on the internet any longer," she says. "What will I find when I Google your name? What do you say online? How do you look online?"

Di Giusto says that while people think that somehow the internet is a safe zone because it's anonymous and neutral, the opposite actually holds true.

"There should be no big difference between how you act online and in real life," she says. "In a real-life group, you wouldn't just share private details or political views without knowing someone."

She leaves professionals with this final to-do: "Always think: The digital imprint has a major imprint on you, and your career and the company that you work for."

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See also:

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The dos and don'ts of office attire, according to 2 professional stylists

3 ways to dress for success at work, according to a Wall Street stylist

Marcus Lemonis: Here's how you impress a potential boss