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Why First Impressions Matter: Top 30 First Day Nightmares Revealed

Turning up late wearing the wrong attire and bumping a colleague’s vehicle in the car park are among the worst first impressions made by new employees, according to new research.

A poll of almost 3000 workers* revealed that the first day at work can be a humiliating affair if things don’t go to plan.

Other blunders include arriving to find you are completely over-dressed, spilling tea everywhere, getting lost en route to the office and saying something inappropriate because you're nervous.

Almost half of workers have had a terrible first day at a new job, with 95% stressing how important it is to them to make a good first impression on others.

And more than three quarters (82%) believe they’re more likely to make a positive impact on their first day if they know they’ve got their clothing spot on.

The study was commissioned by 4imprint, as part of its ‘First Impressions’ campaign, having recently released a new range of corporate workwear to help UK organisations and their employees create a strong and lasting impression.

A spokesperson for 4imprint, said: “Starting a new job can be intimidating for a variety of reasons. From not knowing who you’ll be working with, not being 100% sure how to get to your new workplace and worries over what to wear can make for a nerve-wracking first day.

“Our study found the importance of what you wear to work can make you feel as comfortable as possible on a first day and help create a great first impression.”

According to the survey, workers admitted to having turned up on their first day either being wildly under or overdressed.

More than seven in 10 employees (72%) wish they had a uniform for work, claiming it would have made their first day – and consequently first impressions – easier to manage.

Other first-day nightmares to appear in the top 30 list include finding there was no allocated desk or computer to work at and being late due to nasty traffic.

Having a wardrobe malfunction and accidentally sending a sensitive email as a ‘staff all’ also feature in the list.

Meanwhile, one in three British workers have been introduced to someone on day one at work, then immediately forgotten their name.

One fifth have also been so nervous they’ve ended up blurting out something inappropriate or stupid - leading to quizzical looks from colleagues.

While others have accidently damaged company property, been over-friendly and had to ask how to turn the computer on.

However, those who excelled on their first day put it down to being fully prepared and sufficiently knowledgeable about the company.
And when it comes to making a good impression, 58% say arriving early works wonders while 57% cent try to ask intelligent questions.

The spokesperson for 4imprint, added: “A decision can be made about a person within 26 seconds of meeting them – which is why appearance is so important.

“Corporate work wear can provide reassurance to new starters and if your organisation operates in the service or retail sector then staff uniforms can also be vitally important for customers.”


1. Learned someone's name then immediately forgotten it
2. Got someone's name wrong
3. Was just too nervous
4. Finding I had no computer / desk to work at
5. Said something stupid due to nerves
6. Arrived at the wrong work address
7. Turned up completely overdressed compared to everyone else
8. Worn shoes that ended up being agonisingly painful by the end of the day
9. Had to have something simple explained numerous times
10. Got there late due to traffic
11. Being told I wasn't the 'first choice candidate'
12. Forgotten the code to get in or out of the office
13. Got there late due to public transport problems
14. Put your foot in your mouth during a conversation with someone
15. Turned up completely underdressed compared to everyone else
16. Been over friendly
17. Accidentally sent a sensitive email as a 'staff all'
18. Made someone's tea wrong
19. Said something inappropriate to a new colleague
20. Got there late due to other reasons
21. Damaged company property
22. Spilled tea everywhere
23. Took too long on a lunch break
24. Got the company name wrong
25. Went to the wrong address
26. Asked how to turn your computer on
27. Had a wardrobe malfunction like trousers splitting
28. Took a personal call that was frowned upon
29. Worn a tie when nobody else was wearing one
30. Had to leave early due to a family emergency.


Notes to Editors

*Independent research commissioned by 4imprint. Almost 3000 British workers were surveyed online in April 2018.


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