How Are You Coming Across?


One thing I’ve come to believe is that the person you believe yourself to be is key to being the person others perceive you as. How you see yourself is largely how others will see you. To a point that is…

It’s always worth checking out every so often; how you are viewed by others around you, in order that the way you see yourself is in line with how people you interact with size you up. If you find that how you come across differs from how you view yourself, you should be asking yourself what it is your doing and saying that’s projecting this image that differs from how you believe your interacting with those you meet.

Take a moment and think about how you want others to see you. Do you want others to see you as helpful? Are you going for ruthless? Aggressive? Assertive? Innovative? Self-assured? We are multi-dimensional; meaning there are many sides to us and how we wish to be perceived will vary with the people in our lives we wish to interact with. So for example, we may want to come across as knowledgeable when we meet with our Supervisor at work, but when we talk to someone to buy our snow tires, we might wish to come across as wanting to be informed on what’s best for us and defer to their wisdom.

Whether we do it consciously or not, whenever we interact with others, we send signals about who we are, what’s important to us, how we see ourselves and all of these signals give others an impression of how we see ourselves. This is a key to interacting with the world around us and coming across to others in the way we wish to be viewed.

Take two people you see on a subway platform. Without having a conversation, you see them both from 20 feet away; one is a person in a formal suit, polished leather shoes, pressed pants, crisp shirt and tie, carrying a leather folder. The second is a person with green and blue hair, denim pants and sneakers, long-sleeved shirt, wearing a backpack and a tattoo on each forearm peaking out of the shirt sleeve. You know nothing about their character, their intelligence, their occupation, income level, hobbies, attitude, etc. but if you’re honest, you start to form an opinion about them just the same.

Did you choose a gender for both of the people above? None was given in the description, although to view them on the platform you’d have this information. That first impression you began to form in your brain is based largely on how you’ve perceived and interacted with other people of similar looks in your past. So whether you saw the person in the business suit as successful, determined and confident or conceited, hard-nosed and full of themselves is largely an individual thing. Were you to watch them longer, observe them closer, have a conversation perhaps, your view of them would either be reinforced or change based on further information you gather.

Just like the two people I’ve described, you present yourself to others (the world around you) both in how you look, how you act and what you say. Both the people above may be on the way to work, be very successful by their own definition and be friendly.

The choices we make right from the start of our day go a long way to determining how we are perceived. So what are some of these choices? Showering vs. not showering, brushing our teeth or not, how we wear our hair, the clothes we pick out, (cleanliness, colour, style, fit). There’s also the way we move. Do we saunter along, looking at the streetscape around us and the people we pass or do we walk with a purposeful stride, focused straight on the path ahead, not looking anywhere but at the destination we are moving toward?

Whether older or younger, some thought going in to how we dress, move and act will change how the people we interact with start to size us up. If you’re older and feel your age is a problem, I have to tell you that it’s possible this self-perception is coming across to others in your choice of clothing, grooming, how you behave and your movement. Look at yourself as objectively as you can and note the people around you that you perceive favourably. How are they dressed? How do they move? What’s their posture like? How are they groomed?

One thing you can do to check on how you’re coming across is to ask people you interact with and trust for their views on how they perceive you. As there is little value in only hearing what you want to hear, ask for honesty. Without leading them by saying, “Do I come across as confident?”, just ask how they see you.

Do this with one person and that’s interesting. Do this with two or three and it’s somewhat helpful. Do this with many people and you get a clearer idea of how the world perceives you. Now the question is do you like what you hear? Is it consistent with how you want to come across? If so, great! If not exactly what you hoped for, what is it you’re doing to create that image in their minds? If change is wanted, you act on it.

Pre-Interview Personal Check List


Aside from doing your homework and researching the job you’re about to be interviewed for, here are some tips you can easily overlook that could make the difference between making a positive or negative first impression. Read the list, see what you think and make adjustments to your pre-interview routine as you best see fit. All the best to you as you pursue that next position!

  1. Footwear.

Get your shoes out the night before and spend 5 minutes polishing them. All shoe stores sell various polishes and protectants yet many buyers only leave with their shoes. When you sit down in front of interviews your footwear is often front and center; especially if you cross your legs and elevate one over the other, thus raising it directly in their line of sight. The interviewer can infer you don’t put much value in personal appearance if you’re footwear is poorly maintained and if this is you at your best, you might not be the person to represent the company.

2. Socks

Depending on the job you are going for, you can play it conservative and wear solid colours that match your outfit or you can go playful. If you’re unsure, opt for the conservative black, brown, grey etc. This isn’t the time or place to wear two different socks as the interviewer has a limited time period to ask you pertinent questions that relate to the job and one of them isn’t going to be, “What’s with the socks?” Therefore, they’ll be left to wonder if you’re just having fun, showing off your individualism, bucking the establishment or you just generally don’t recognize the occasions when you should dress appropriately.

3. Tattoos And Piercings

The general public once associated people who displayed tattoos as being criminals and sailors, piercings as being for punkers and those into self-mutilation. Today, people in all walks of life have tattoos and they’ve become mainstream. However, you have to use common sense when making up your mind to expose or cover up your personal artwork. Knowing the culture of the company you are applying for, anticipating the reaction of the customers, clients or end-users of the companies services and products can all help guide you in your decision. Of course, the tattoo itself and what it communicates has to be paramount. You can always remove piercings for an interview, or even the job once you’ve got it if it’s important to you and add them back when hired or on your own time.

4. Shirts, Blouses, Pants, Skirts And Dresses

Notice I didn’t include shorts and neither should you. Get out what you’re wearing the night before an interview or if you’ve got your favourite interview outfit, check it out now rather than later. Look for obvious signs of wear and tear such as frayed cuffs and hems. When standing in front of a mirror, have you gained or lost weight and the fit isn’t what it once was? Aside from stains that can come out in a wash, have the garments faded and now look drab? Have you any loose or missing buttons that need sewing?

5. Brush Your Teeth

Whether you’re a smoker or not, brushing your teeth before the interview not only removes any stuck food but can improve your breath and impact your confidence. Head out to a pharmacy or grocery store and pick up a small tube of toothpaste, a small or collapsible brush and a mini bottle of mouthwash. These you can stash in your purse, glove compartment box or even an inner jacket pocket of your coat.

6. Hygiene

Shower, use deodorant and if you’ve got annoying sweat lines under your chest or under your armpits, dust yourself with some baby powder after the shower dry off. The baby powder will help reduce those sweat lines and give you one less thing to worry about. Clean and trim your fingernails; trim the nasal hairs too.

7. Perfume and Cologne

These days someone in the company you are applying to is likely to have some allergy to fragrances. It might even be a company policy that you arrive without a scent; what’s pleasing to you might be deadly to someone else and that someone could be the person prepared to interview you. Some applicants are told that the interview can’t proceed unless they can wash off the fragrance and rescheduling may or may not be possible. Don’t lose the interview and thereto the job over this.

8. Hair Care

If you’re the applicant who out of habit plays with their bangs or locks, get it back and out of reach. If it constantly falls over your eyes and you have to continually toss it back or move it off your face with your hands, choose a hairstyle that eliminates this. Ensure it’s clean, groomed and this goes for beards and moustaches too.

9. Business or Business Casual?

Before the interview, check the expected attire worn each day by current employees. Does the company have a policy or dress code you could adhere to right from the interview? Find out.

10. Accessories

You want to impress them with your knowledge and your answers. Too bad if they can’t hear you over the jewelry on your wrists or they can’t get over the distracting earrings or necklaces. Keep your accessories to a minimum as they should highlight you not the other way around. Clean your glasses ahead of the interview as well.