Impression management: The path to a new job?

What exactly do we mean when we talk about Impression Management during a job interview? Impression Management refers to the process that individuals use to control and influence the perception that others have of them. In high-stake environments, such as a job interview, people apply a number of strategies to highlight certain skills and prove that they are socially competent.

Impression Management is something that everyone, consciously and unconsciously, uses. From a young age we become aware of the perceptions that others have of us. Gradually we realise that it is in our power to influence this. But the question we are going to ask ourselves today is; When does Impression Management go too far?

The importance of Impression Management is definitely highlighted during a job interview. But how far can you go to get the job you really want? When do you go too far, and when not far enough?

No matter how you look at it, the job interview is still the most important part of the recruitment process. This is most often not a problem for extrovert personalities, but is can be an obstacle for those who break into a cold sweat just thinking about it.

Research has shown that Impression Management works. The chance that the interviewer sees you as a suitable candidate, both technically and personally, increases. Below you can find some tips to apply Impression Management in a successful way. These tips are often applicable to the interviewers themselves.


The most important boundary to keep in mind is honesty. You can use Impression Management to highlight truthful features and facts, but you can also use it to distort the truth or simply lie. Lies and half-truths have the habit of surfacing later on, so try to avoid those. Honesty remains the common thread throughout the following tips.

Be yourself

The personal ‘click’ between candidate and organisation is an enormously important factor. Every company has its own vibe and character. That is why it is important to let your own personality shine through during an interview. It is perfectly possible to pretend to be someone else during the interview period, but is not sustainable in the long term.


If you have set your sights on a nice job in a company that you think would be a great match, then there are a number of techniques you can apply to increase your chances of getting the job.

Being aware of the impact that non-verbal communication can have, can give you an edge on the competition.

  • make conscious eye contact;
  • mirror the posture and movement of the interviewer;
  • agreeing and nodding;
  • smiling.

The elements mentioned above ensure that the interviewer leaves the interview with you in a more positive state-of-mind.


It is often said about Belgians that we are too modest. A job interview is definitely an environment to dispel this, as long as you continue to follow the first tip (honesty). A job interview is the perfect place to focus on your own knowledge and skills. Give sufficient examples of past achievements. If you lack certain knowledge, then you can always use examples of past experiences to demonstrate that you are capable of quickly learning new skills.

Pay attention to the counterparty

Paying attention to the person sitting in front of you and the company that they represent is an important point of attention. Showing interest, asking questions, digging deeper… ensure that a bond is being created. Also have a look beforehand at the values a company lives by. Mention these during the interview and indicate which are important to you and why.

Give context

Nobody is a perfect match: not in personality, skill or past career. There is no one who expects you to be. But a clear explanation will help to put things in perspective. Is the interview process tough? Then you can mention this during the conversation. It does not mean that this should have a negative impact on your job performance. Are there certain gaps in your CV or are there some short-lived previous jobs? Do not avoid these questions, but explain and give context.

Paying attention to the perception that others have about you is certainly not negative, as long as you use it to put honest information in the spotlight.

Deception techniques are better not used. Portraying other people in a negative light, making exaggerated excuses, blaming others… are all things that do not leave a good impression. These are also issues that experienced interviewers will immediately see through.

Properly applied, Impression Management, can give you more confidence and will increase the chances of positive interview feedback.

This blog was based on the work "The Use of Impression Management Tactics in Structured Interviews: A Function of Question Type?" By Ellis et al. (2002) and "A Multi-Level Review of Impression Management Motives and Behaviors" by Boline et al. al. (2008).