For some, impressions are made even quicker. Nearly one in five (18 percent) respondents indicated it takes them five minutes or less to draw conclusions about an interviewee.
The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals, and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes telephone interviews with more than 500 HR managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.
HR managers were asked, "How long does it typically take you to form either a positive or negative opinion of a job candidate during an initial interview?"
Less than five minutes
More than 30 minutes
Don't know/no answer
* Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.
The median response was 10 minutes.
"Candidates are under scrutiny from the moment they arrive for an interview," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Job Hunting For Dummies®, 2nd Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). "Job seekers should convey their professionalism, including through their body language, and be able to quickly highlight the value they bring to the organization using a well-honed elevator pitch."
Job candidates need to remember it's not just the interviewer they need to impress, added Messmer. "Hiring managers often seek feedback from everyone who interacted with the interviewee -- from administrative staff to the person's potential peers," he said.
Accountemps offers five tips for getting the job interview off to a good start:
Pay attention to the details. Extend a firm handshake, maintain eye contact and present a professional image. This includes ensuring your shoes are shined, clothing is pressed, and nails are clean and trimmed.
Ace the likely questions. Make sure you know how you will respond to predictable questions, such as, "Can you tell me a little about yourself?" Research the firm before your interview and tap your network for their insights to enable you to couch your answers in the context of how you can help the company.
Don't be cocky. Strike the right balance between presenting your accomplishments in a positive light and coming across as overly confident. Being arrogant is one of the worst mistakes a candidate can make.
Tell memorable stories. Give specific examples of how and why you've been successful. You'll make a positive impression on hiring managers by sharing interesting anecdotes about how you solved a tough business problem or saved an employer money.
Be yourself. Avoid coming across as overly rehearsed. Interviewers want to get a sense of your personality and how you would fit into the office culture.
Accountemps has produced a series of videos highlighting Bob from Accountemps, the fast, efficient, go-to accounting professional. Find out why Bob is so popular with his clients and coworkers alike in these humorous videos: www.accountemps.com/whoisbob.