They say first impressions are lasting impressions. But do they last forever?
That’s the burning question for anyone who has ever left a negative impression on a colleague, a boss, an interviewer, a friend … the list goes on.
Well, we’re here to put your mind at ease. You can come back from a negative impression.
Here’s what it’ll take to turn that negative impression around:
1. It’s going to take effort.
If you left someone with a poor opinion of you, changing their mind will not be easy. It will require work on your end. Ask yourself: Is it worth it? Is this person’s opinion important to me? Is this person important to me?
If you decide that it matters enough to put the work in, great. If you decide that maybe it’s better to just move on, that’s OK, too. After all, the choice is yours.
But there are lessons to be learned from every encounter, good and bad. Make a note of what may have gone wrong so you can avoid that in the future.
2. It’s going to take accountability.
Actions may speak louder than words – but speaking the right words doesn’t hurt.
Sometimes apologizing can be stressful, emotional and awkward. However, if you know you hurt someone, or if you know an action of yours caused negative feelings in another person, it might help to talk about it.
The key here is to not make excuses.
At the end of the day, human beings appreciate honesty. They appreciate people who take responsibility for their actions. And they appreciate individuals who allow themselves to be vulnerable.
Taking accountability won’t necessarily flip someone’s point of view right away. It might never change their opinion. But, at the very least, you’ll feel good knowing that you owned your part.
3. It’s going to take time.
Don’t expect things to happen immediately. Remember, you are dealing with human beings. And minds and hearts don’t change overnight. If you made a bad impression, or inadvertently offended someone, allow them some time to process.
That doesn’t mean, however, to disappear completely from their world – especially, if this person, or this relationship is important to you.
Be respectful. Give them a little space. But still be present. Sometimes it take a little time for the impact and the feelings that the negative impression caused to lessen.
What About Negative Impressions Left After an Interview?
Maybe you did something you shouldn’t have. Maybe you said something you shouldn’t have. If you are looking for work and fear that you left a negative impression on your interviewer, changing their opinion might be a little tricky.
However, it’s not impossible.
6 steps to take to improve a negative impression after an interview:
1. Think about where you might have gone wrong.
Realistically, if you feel like you left a negative impression, you probably did. And you probably have a general idea of what you did that might have cause that reaction.
2. Write it down.
Write down what went sideways. Make note of what you learned. This will help you focus and put together your thoughts for step number 3.
3. Send your interviewer a follow-up email.
You were going to send a “thank you” email anyway, right? (If you weren’t planning to, you should!) Thank them for their time, reference something you enjoyed about the meeting and acknowledge that you may not have left the best impression.
4. Proofread your email – for excuses.
Don’t try to justify your behavior. Own your actions and ask for another opportunity to talk. As we said previously, it may not help, but taking accountability won’t hurt.
6. Don’t wait!
While in most cases you want to give people some time to process, with an interviewer, you don’t have time to lose. There is a job on the line. Again, there’s no guarantee that this will put you back in the running for the job, but at the very least you know you took action.
Bonus tip: If you sense the interview going south during the interview, it is OK to pause and acknowledge it. Maybe you became nervous and went off-track answering the question. Maybe you feel like you didn’t provide enough of an answer. Just ask for an opportunity to provide more clarity.
No one wants to leave an interview feeling like it didn’t go well, but learn from the experience. Whatever the results may be, take note of what went well and what didn’t and use it to strengthen your interviewing skills and improve future interviews.
Need Interviewing and Job Search Help?
For tips on what you can do to ensure you make a good impression during your interview, check out this article: 5 Quick Tips to Make a Good First Impression at Your Next Interview.
Another resource that often gets overlooked is a staffing agency. Recruiters want to set you up for success and often provide additional support. Many times they recommend edits to your resume and assist with interview prep.
We know there is a stigma surrounding staffing agencies. But the reality is that staffing agencies are a great resource for job seekers. Every year they match millions of people to new job opportunities.