In interview and in class: what two things are you really judged on within seconds of meeting?

What do you look for in someone for when you first meet them? Are you really aware of the attributes you’re subconsciously measuring?

It depends on the situation but, without fail, you’ll be making fast decisions about what sort of person they are and what you can expect from them.

When it comes to an interview, you have to take the measure of someone very quickly.
In the classroom first impressions certainly count. So what can you do to make the right impression first time in both of these scenarios?

Professor Amy Cuddy, Social Psychologist from Harvard University reveals that actually the two things that you are evaluated on as soon as you meet someone are warmth and competence.  As an evolutionary response, you too will be sized up on these two values by a range of means immediately, whether it be your body language or the content of what you’re saying. So how can you apply this valuable knowledge to engaging a class or bonding with someone in a job interview?


1. Firstly make eye contact and let you have their undivided attention while showing that you are also giving yours. If you’re in an interview shake hands.

2. Show that you’re capable of empathy don’t be afraid to make reference to the goings around you or the situation that’s come up today and refer to how they feel

3. Listen, and show that you’ve listened by actually responding to what they’ve said instead of always pushing your own agenda during the conversation.


1. Examples. Don’t just rely on the contents of your CV to show what a capable teacher you are. After each question, you need to be ready immediately with decent examples of times that you demonstrated the skills specified in the job spec.

2. Preparedness. 80% of meetings should be prep work and 20% talk. Organisation is key on this one, whether in an interview or in front of the class. There’s nothing like flapping around with a lost piece of paper or searching through screens to indicate that you don’t know what you’re doing, whether you really do or not. You have only the first few moments to get to know someone – so you haven’t got long.

3. Confident tone and vocabulary. The unfortunate reality is that someone who is a wordsmith and bold public speaker will invariably be perceived as both competent and warm simply because they’re able to talk a good game. If you’re not such a charismatic character, teach yourself some strategies to calm yourself down before first encounters. be prepared with conversation starters for interview. Whilst talking about the weather might be universal and relatable to the school situation, the weather is actually the one subject that’s going to make you least memorable of all of the interviewees, interviewers or teachers that day.

Professor Amy Cuddy’s Book “Presence” is available on Amazon.

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Author: Katie Newell

Katie Newell

Katie is the Content Manager for and, publishing thought leadership and research results to our 1.6 million candidates and 7,000 member schools. Katie is an ex-primary school teacher, Head of Maths and Head of Year 5 and languages specialist as well as a former PR commentator. Katie feels passionately that teachers are the unsung heroes of society; that a total change to marking culture is the key to achieving a work life balance for the best job in the world; and that homework is a rubbish idea.

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