Initial contact

We know that opinions are formed very quickly, whether that is a meet and great when you’re first working with a client, to provide sports science support or in a crunch encounter like an interview, where you’re hoping to land that sports science job.

Research indicates that ‘last impressions’ differ little from the initial ‘first impression’ (first 20 second of an encounter).

Like me, so I like you

There is also an effect, one which you’re unlikely to be able to control a great deal, is how similar you are to the recruiter. For example the more an applicant is like the interviewer, the more highly the applicant will be rated higher on being likeable, competence, and confidence.

Options to impress

How might you be able to culture this in an interview setting? Well there aren’t many opportunities, but there are a few if you can wangle them.


First, is asking to speak to the lead interviewer / decision maker. I’d ask, “Is it possible to speak to X to ask a few questions about the opportunity?” Come armed with questions about duties, the team, who you would be reporting too. Importantly, look for opportunities to show similarities. “That’s interesting you said X, because I’ve also been working in a similar way on Y”


Second, is the pre-interview chat on the day. If you get invited to a whole day event then an opportunity should present itself in breaks. Other wise it might be constrained to ‘the walk’ from the holding room, to the interview. Try asking, “Do you live locally?” “Are you from this area?” This can surface information about origin and family, which you can riff on.


Third, most obviously, look for clues about the interviewers approach. Are they softly spoken, animated, leading with intellectual information? Take the opportunity to dial your presentation AT THE START of the interview to match style. Mimicry is to be avoided but mirroring is a common way to build rapport.

What methods have you used in the past that has created great first impressions?