The First Impression Mistake You Could Be Making at Interviews Without Realizing It

For months, I was convinced that a woman from the marketing department at my old job hated my guts. I couldn’t figure it out because we’d had a pleasant conversation at a company happy hour, and, I thought, really hit it off. And yet, I’d bump into her in the kitchen and women’s restroom and got the cold shoulder. One day, completely unsettled by it (what had I done to deserve the withering looks?), I said something about it to one of my team members. She laughed and put a reassuring hand on my shoulder, “No, no. It’s not you. That’s just how she looks. It’s called Resting Bitch Face.”

This was before RBF became a thing, but, nonetheless, I was so relieved to hear that it wasn’t me!

But, after I’d enjoyed a few moments of reflection on my newfound knowledge, I couldn’t help wondering, doesn’t she care that she looks like a total bitch? Wouldn’t you try to do something to change it if you could? In latest Resting Bitch Face news, The Washington Post’s Caitlin Gibson reports that scientists have discovered the cause of the (unfortunate) phenomenon.

Behavioral researchers employed a software program to analyze faces, specifically eight basic human emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, disgust, contempt, and “neutral.” Contempt, you might have guessed, was the emotion linked to RBF, and it’s identifiable by squinty eyes and a part of the lip pulled up and away. The most important discovery lies in the revelation that the computer detected RBF in men and women equally. Society may have led us to believe it’s mostly women who possess this undesirable expression, but, in fact, that’s just a construct.

The RBF is problematic, even if the person expressing it has pure intentions. Imagine going into an interview. You greet the receptionist with a bright smile and then sit and wait for the hiring manager to retrieve you. You sit idly, anticipating the questions you’re about to be asked, occasionally noticing foot traffic of people who could end up being your co-workers, and you have zero idea that you’re giving off a look of sheer contempt. You’re making a horrible first impression, to say the least.

It’s gone by the time you stand to shake hands with your interviewer, but the damage has been done. Even if the meeting goes smoothly and you nail every hardball thrown your way, you can’t escape the chance that your first impression left a bad taste in the hiring manager’s mouth. Like me, the interviewer probably didn’t think, “Oh, hey, this person’s not unhappy about being here. He just has RBF.”

If this is a concern for you—and if you’re unsure, then err on the side of caution, and consider it a concern—you can find out. FaceReader, the analyzing program, will reveal if you have more in common with Kanye West or Kristin Stewart than you once realized.

And, if you can’t wait to get an answer, practice smiling more. You might feel silly at first, but it’s a far better option than getting booted out of a job opportunity because your first impression was, well, bitchy.


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13 Ways to Prove You’re the Ideal Startup Candidate—No Matter Where You’re Coming From

Ready to leave your corporate job and your claustrophobic cubicle to work at a startup? Awesome! There’s just one catch: While you might have the skills you need to succeed in such an environment, on paper, you appear overqualified—or worse, simply not a good fit.

That means instead of focusing on your specific skills during an interview, you need to prove why you want to be in a culture that’s constantly evolving, as well as what unique characteristics you can bring to the table on day one.

Below, 13 startup founders from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) explain exactly how they expect more experienced candidates to prove they fit within a startup environment.

1. Demonstrate How You Can Solve the Company’s Problems

Startups have too much work to do and not enough people. So if a job seeker can express how he or she can solve the specific problems a company faces and get results, many other concerns go by the wayside. The main one left is cost. It’s then on the candidate to explain that his or her interest in this job isn’t about money, but rather fulfilling specific personal goals.

Alan Carniol, Interview Success Formula

2. Showcase Your Passion for the Company’s Mission

Convictions and motivation are way more important in a candidate (especially a senior-level candidate) than experience. ‘Wanting to work at a startup’ is a terrible motivation for applying. A good motivation is finding a company whose mission resonates with you, whose values align with yours, and whose goals work perfectly with your skill set.

Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

3. Make it Clear You’re in for the Long Haul

I want to know if you’re using my company as a pit stop until the next shiny opportunity comes your way. Startups have a lot of pomp and panache these days, and the reality of being in one is not about perks galore and unstructured everything. Show me how you’ve stuck it out, particularly when things get tough.

Beck Bamberger, BAM Communications

4. Demonstrate Your Ability to Perform More Than One Role

If any experienced person comes to me, I always see whether he or she can perform more than one role. As a startup, we need fewer resources to create more in order to cut down on cost. If aspirants can take on multiple roles, we don’t have to cut back on salary. This is the most convincing point for me.

Piyush Jain, SIMpalm

5. Explain Your Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations

Most people coming from large companies to join startups are ultimately giving up extrinsic motivations (salary and benefits) for intrinsic motivations (purpose, mission), which is a reasonable trade-off. But it’s important for the candidate to articulate this and have clarity on what it really means. Inevitably your startup will go through extreme challenges, and this understanding will be called upon.

Fan Bi, Blank Label

6. Push the Boundaries

The best question you can pose to a hiring manager: ‘What is your biggest problem? I want to solve it.’ At ZappRx, I want to hire qualified people who in turn want to push the boundaries to an area they may not know about, but have the drive and interest to dream big and get things done on my team.

Zoe Barry, ZappRx

7. Mention Your Side Projects

I love seeing side projects from potential candidates. Even if they’re not qualified, seeing their creativity and marketing skills is something that’s much more important to me.

Ben Lang, Mapme

8. Show Your Entrepreneurial Spirit

If working at a startup is your motivation, tell stories along that theme. Talk about how you organized the community garage sale or how you do social media consulting for your friends. Creating something from nothing is what I find most impressive.

David Ciccarelli,

9. Don’t Hold Anything Back

Someone who has a lot of experience can add a lot to your startup, but he needs to be able to adapt to your culture and way of doing business. Even though a person may be overqualified, he still needs to be down-to-Earth enough to realize when he could use help or learn something new. If a candidate can admit when he’s made mistakes or can improve, it’s a good sign of his adaptability.

David Tomas, Cyberclick

10. Prove it Through Work History

Showing is always better than telling. I want to see through your work history that you’ve taken risks with your career. If you’ve worked a standard career path, I’ll find it harder to believe that you want to take a risk now. If you’ve shown yourself willing to take a risk for something you believe in, that’ll do a lot to convince me that you’ll be a stable and productive team member.

Mitch Gordon, Go Overseas

11. Prove it in the Process

Skills and qualifications are important. But what I really want to see in order to be convinced that someone fits in with my startup is not exactly tangible. It’s the cultural fit; the personal, added value this person will offer to the team. It’s a combination of personality and capabilities that will either allow him or her to work within my team or be excluded.

Yiannis Giokas, Crypteia Networks

12. Show That You Love a Challenge

The startup lifestyle is not as glamorous as many make it out to be. I want to see and feel the fact that you love a good challenge, and that that’s a big motivating factor toward ‘making the leap.’ Show me how in your past you’ve taken on similar challenges and why it suits you well. Intrinsic motivation can be the biggest motivation of all.

Jay Johnson, Small Lot Wine

13. Show Your Passion

For me, it’s about how passionate and engaged a candidate is going to be at the job we’re hiring her to do. More and more managers are looking to get back in the trenches. They miss getting their hands dirty doing the day-to-day job they cut their teeth on before they started managing people

Peter Sena, Digital Surgeons


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