I don’t know who said it, but we know it is not true that “you only get one chance to make a good first impression.” You can make a bad first impression and recover. Here’s an example:
I once had a candidate show up at my office. He was waiting for me in the Reception area. The first thing I noticed about him was that he was holding his cell phone up to his nose. The second thing was that his shirt collar was not buttoned. And the third thing was that his tie was neither straight nor tight. When I approached him, he lowered the phone, looked at my outstretched hand and, to my mind, thought about whether or not he would shake it. After a second or two he did, but by then I was convinced that he was not the candidate for my client – who was looking for someone extremely detail-oriented.
We entered my conference room, sat down, and after the normal chit-chat, he said, “Bruce, I have to tell you one thing before we start, I am legally blind.”
Bad first impression explained. Candidate submitted to client. You can get a second chance to make a good first impression.
But here’s the thing: Sloppiness aside, it is fairly difficult for men to dress inappropriately for a job interview or a business meeting. Granted, I have had men show up with wild ties. And, as most people who have heard me speak know, I even had one gentleman, bald, show up having spray painted his head black! (Remember the infomercials for “hair in a can?”) But, for the most part, life for men is simple: suit, white shirt, conservative tie, black shoes. Easy!
Women have a problem. They can easily dress inappropriately. Showing off physical attributes (who says I can’t be diplomatic?!) is a sign of a lack of confidence. You can’t get the job based on your record so… This can happen when the top is too low or the hem is too high. But, as I recently witnessed at a business gathering, it can also happen if the dress is too tight requiring the wearer to lower her skirt whenever she rose to speak.
And that was all people talked about, behind her back, after the fact. No one even remembered what she had said. Which is why you always want to dress conservatively – man or woman.