From the moment you enter the building where the interview is being facilitated, you are being watched. Every movement, every conversation can be scrutinized. Often, the receptionist, or other person who shepherds you into the interview room, are asked for their opinion of you. Many of your actions will be communicated through non-verbal cues, through body language. Therefore, it is important to be acutely aware of your body language, including eye contact, voice pitch, tone and speed, poise, facial expressions and nervous habits. Here are some tips to help you maximize your impact with a decision maker on your career future.
1. Body Language
Your body language speaks volumes about you — how you walk into the office building and the interview room, your handshake, your eye contact, your gestures, your manner of conversation and your overall attitude are being evaluated. To be fully engaged in an interview, it is not just about answering questions, it involves the body and the mind.
Your poise — how you carry yourself and your posture, highlight your character. An upright posture expresses openness. Sit tall with your head up, shoulders square and initially, feet flat on the floor. This conveys confidence while improving your own sense of self-awareness. Keep your hands visible as this conveys honesty and openness. Use them to enforce the conversation or point, however, don’t flail your arms or raise your hands above your shoulders. Never cross your arms as this conveys defensiveness.
Be aware of your surroundings and the “mirror” technique. Mirroring the poise and stance of the interviewer portrays you as aware and at ease in the surroundings. Psychologists tell us it strengthens a bond, both verbally and physically, between the two parties. What is mirroring? If the interviewer leans forward, you should also lean forward – but not within a split second as a jerk reaction. Take your time. If they cross their legs, you should also cross your legs.
3. Eye Contact
The inability to maintain constant eye contact is an indicator that you are lying or being deceptive. Moving your eyes across the room or shifting them from side to side creates an unstable and questionable impact. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer which communicates truth and a sense of openness. If it’s a panel of interviewers, look at the interviewer asking the question, but periodically move your eyes to the other panelists.
4. Facial Expressions
We have 43 muscles in the face, all used to convey thoughts and emotions. These can be unconsciously read and interpreted by the interviewer. Smiling occasionally conveys warmth and brings huge value to building a bond. It suggests you will be an amiable person to add to the staffing complement. Interviewing is a test on your stress level and questions are often posed about weaknesses, supported by negative-based questions to test your reasoning power. During this phase, refrain from frowning, showing anger, confusion or astonishment. Stay calm. Breathe deeply without lifting your shoulders. Take your time before responding.
The impression you make during an interview is not only based on what you say, but how you say it. Speak using a normal voice pitch and tone and modulate your voice to emphasize key points. When the stress questions are asked, don’t raise the pitch or the speed of your speech. Try to keep an even speed throughout the conversation to convey to the interviewer that you are on their wavelength.
6. Nervous Habits
The calmer you are, the better it will be for all. Refrain from shuffling your feet, tapping on the table, twirling or rearranging your hair, clicking your pen or laughing inappropriately.
Finally, it’s hard to believe, but I am hearing it more and more, that people answer their smartphones during the interview, either verbally or by texting. What does this communicate to the interviewer? Are you serious or not? This action will swiftly eliminate you from any future hiring considerations at that company.
While driving to the interview, consider listening to a motivational speaker or relaxing music to help calm the nerves which will be there. Remember, it can also be nerve wracking for the interviewer.