Barbara Corcoran on how to make a good first impression in “5 or 6 seconds”

Corcoran has made hiring decisions in less time than that – think “five or six seconds” when a candidate’s presentation and panache has been flawless.

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Real estate mogul and “Shark Tank” judge Barbara Corcoran knows something about first impressions. After all, her business depends on it. Think of readying yourself for an interview as staging a house for a viewing. “Potential homebuyers make their decision within eight seconds of walking through the door,” she writes on her blog.

Actually, Corcoran has made hiring decisions in less time than that – think “five or six seconds” when a candidate’s presentation and panache have been flawless.


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One example: back when Corcoran had a “very small office” bustling with people, a man walked in for his interview early and said, “I’m here for an appointment with Mrs. Corcoran. Would you rather I wait outside?” He was clearly aware that he might be getting in the way.

“Outside? It was raining outside! But here’s this guy who walked into my intimate office, realized he may be interrupting us, and acted on it immediately so that we would not be inconvenienced – even though he already had the appointment.

I hired this man. All it took was about five or six seconds for me to make my decision.”

Corcoran has four key pieces of advice to making a good impression:

  • Good posture. Stand up! It makes you look and feel more confident. If you don’t, others may get the wrong impression. “When I see someone walk onto the Shark Tank set and they are hunched over, I interpret that, rightly or wrongly, as a lack of confidence,” write Corcoran.
  • Make eye contact. Don’t scan the room at everything but the person in front of you – “looking somebody straight in the eye creates trust. If someone is not looking you straight in the eye, believe me, you are not trusting them.”
  • Look the part. Dress for the job you want. “If you say you’re a baker, look like a baker. You have to look the part – it buys credibility. A little extra shine and polish go a long way.”
  • Clear communication. Make sure you know how to get across your passion and idea to the other person in a clear and concise way. Rehearse it if you need to. If you can’t do this, “it’s going to lead to 50,000 questions, you’re going to come up empty.”

There are no “warm-up periods,” Corcoran writes, just a few simple ways to come off as polished and professional as you can.


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.