We have all seen that one person stick out head and shoulders above the crowd. Somehow its mesmerising or other times is just a false alarm. Depends what’s on the menu and what catches the eye.

Now, we have also heard, “first impressions last” or make that “first impression count”, Once again, it depends on what side of the impression you are on.

I’ve had the privilege to work with many CEOs & MDs that have positively influenced my life. All of them had many traits in common, one of which, they actually just cared. Nothing rocket science about that. All of that care, as their primary trait; has to a large part contributed to my success: both business and personal. Success in my case is “its ok to make mistakes but soldier forward, having enough money for running shoes and never slapping stupid people.

Anyhoo, about 11 years ago I was unemployed and finally got a call from a company for an interview the following Monday. I dressed up in my best suit, 2 sizes to big (i was much thinner back then), polished my shoes and walked shoulders back and chest out. Interview must have gone well (great first impression) as I got a second interview with the MD that Friday. And that’s when things kicked off…

Now for the record, when HR called me for the second interview, i EXPRESSLY asked about dress. Not wearing a dress, but should it be suite and tie or business casual. HR responded with, go casual. Evident to say, casual was not a choice I gave HR. So, playing it safe, business casual was my choice. Nicely snug between formal and casual.

The following events happened in a split second.

Walk into the office. See MD. See MD outfit. See my outfit. See the difference. And freeze.

I started the interview with an apology and throwing HR under the bus. Way to go big guy! The MD was dressed in suite and tie and looked like a million bucks. My outfit that I thought was a million bucks was reduced to R100. Hows that for deflation! I apologised for getting my business casual attire incorrect and the MD responded, relax man. Its cool. I wear suite and tie everyday. He then offered me coffee, I said yes (sheepishly) and then he walked over to the kitchen asking about sugar & milk etc. I said yes and yes and opened the fridge and handed him the milk… and that’s how I landed the job!

Say what???

Handing someone milk got me the job!!!

Turns out that the MD had a different approach to business, people and interviews. Also turns out he owned a carpentry business on the side that did shop fitting for large multinationals. One of his interview techniques for new carpenters was brilliant. He would take them to the workshop floor and stand around a workbench. On the workbench were 20 or so wood screws and he would, with slight of hand knock them all off. If the potential carpenter kneeled down, picked up all the screws and arranged them head-to-toe and handed them back to the MD, they would get the job. If not, the MD would let him know that they didn’t pass the interview, explaining why.

His explanation for this interview technique; the milk and screws, is to verify a person’s ability too “paying attention” when it matters most. That’s it!

Reviewing the interview; the MD always wanted to see if “we” not “he” was going to make the coffee. Turns out and thankfully so, I had my head on that morning and was paying attention. I saw that the coffee job wasn’t going to be complete, unless I handed him the milk. I mean, I was standing right next to the damn fridge. Give a brother some help! And the rest is history.

First impressions are not about beautiful red dresses worn to the ball, the ripped jock and his six pack abs (although that would be awesome) or the best candidate for a job. First impressions is about paying attention on a daily basis and being responsible to the person that chooses you to do great things together.

 

If you find grammatical errors contained within, please assist & correct me to become a better writer.

Your comments and feedback is always welcome!

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