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A candidate’s first impression influences hiring manager’s decision making

By Nicole Gorton | |5 minute read
A candidate’s first impression influences hiring manager’s decision making

A hiring manager’s snap judgement is highly likely to influence the chances of a candidate receiving a job offer. We recently conducted some independent research that confirmed that nearly eight-in-ten (79 per cent) employers acknowledge that their initial impression of a candidate can indeed influence their feedback or decision making during the recruitment process.

Of these employers, 29 per cent say their initial impression ‘always’ influences their feedback or decision and 50 per cent say it ‘often’ influences their decision or feedback.

First impressions are influencing the chance of being considered for a job


Based on my 25 years’ experience, first impressions from hiring managers have traditionally had an impact on the likelihood of a candidate securing the job. And candidates are aware of it.

Our research confirms that 84 per cent of Australian office workers feel a hiring manager’s first impression of them has impacted their decision when being considered for a role. Of this, 55 per cent believe that the first impression they gave had a positive impact on the hiring manager’s decision, while 28 per cent believe it had a negative impact.

While many workers feel that a hiring manager’s first impression has positively impacted their likelihood of receiving a job offer, this can suggest an affinity bias which is creating a like-for-like talent pipeline.

How quickly are first impressions being formed?

I have spoken to countless hiring managers following interviews with candidates. We often see that the process of forming first impressions varies between individuals and their circumstances. Whether or not they are favourable or unfavourable inklings, the time it takes to form one can vary depending on the format candidates are interviewed, and our survey confirms these findings.

According to our survey, 63 per cent of hiring managers form a first impression of a candidate within the first 15 minutes of ‘an in-person interview’. Initial assessment times when conducting ‘virtual interviews’ are slightly slower with 56 per cent of hiring managers saying they form their first impression within 15 minutes.

It’s safe to say first impressions are formed quickly and candidates need to be very aware of this.

Australian employers are actively combatting first-impression bias

The good news is that organisations are actively taking steps to minimise the risk of hiring managers being unconsciously influenced by initial opinions. 98 per cent of business leaders are taking active steps in eliminating unconscious bias.

Based on our research, here are the five most common tactics to eliminate unconscious bias:

  • Asking the same questions at the beginning of the interview to every candidate
  • Including multiple people in the hiring process
  • Conducting a phone interview first
  • Conducting an anonymous skills test
  • Removing candidates' names, ages, background, and pictures from their applications before reviewing CVs

Working with a recruitment agency is also an effective way to reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process with their ability to independently source quality candidates on a company’s behalf.

Eliminating factors that may contribute to unconscious bias in the hiring process will ensure companies are not missing out on top talent and will empower diversity to flourish in the workplace.

Diversity and inclusion allow companies to improve employee wellbeing, reduce staff turnover, and draw from a wide range of skills, experiences and perspectives to meet business needs. The benefits of wide diversity and inclusion are also abundant for the workplace culture. It really is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Nicole Gorton is a director at Robert Half Australia.

More information can be found here.



The practice of actively seeking, locating, and employing people for a certain position or career in a corporation is known as recruitment.

Unconscious bias

Unconscious bias refers to discriminating choices made by a person without their knowledge as a result of internalised opinions towards certain individuals or groups of people. This may have a detrimental impact on hiring choices.

A candidate’s first impression influences hiring manager’s decision making
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