Job interviews are often daunting. Being calm, confident and in control is the perfect scenario. But sometimes our underlying nerves can elicit body language that betrays the cool exterior. One time at a job interview I was at the final round with the managing director. It was the fifth interview and I was feeling reasonably confident having come this far but was also feeling slightly nervous. The MD asked if I would like a glass of water, I said – yes and as I took a sip completely missed my mouth and the water went all down my chin. All I could envision was the classic scene from the movie Flying High, laughed it off and said, “Oops. Missed my mouth.” Fortunately, he laughed too and I managed to get through the rest of the interview.
I hope you don’t make that mistake at your next interview and get tripped up by your body language. Try these few tips to keep in control.
Appearance – look the part. Dress like the professional they are expecting. That doesn’t mean having to buy something new. You will feel more comfortable in an outfit you already have that you know you look good in.
Research the dress code of the organisation before you plan your interview outfit. Have a look at the images posted on their website. There may be images that will give you a visual impression of how they expect that brand to look. Style yourself as the person who is going places in this company. Consider that you will be reflecting that company brand image. Is it professional, trustworthy, creative – how would you project that visually through what you wear? Make sure the first impression the interviewer has of you is fabulous.
Body language. Having a glass of water is fine – if you don’t spill it! It is about being comfortable and if you have dry throat because of nerves, a glass of water will help. It will also give you something to hold so you don’t fidget. Keep your hands relatively still – in your lap or placed on your thighs. Some hand movement of course is fine – it would not be natural otherwise. Too much gesticulation can look awkward and send subliminal signals about your confidence and authority.
Try not to cross your legs and consider that a direct gaze, personable smile, firm handshake, sitting tall and upright and lack of fidgeting will convey assurance. Putting yourself in the right frame of mind before the interview helps. Many of you would have read about the Power Pose, referred to by social psychologist Amy Cuddy in her Ted Talk. A confident stance, hand on hips held for a few minutes before the interview may help. Try it in the lift or outside before you go in. A Car-aoke song could help you feel uplifted too.
Conversation. I know you would have prepared well beforehand. Rehearsing the answers to any potential questions the interviewer may ask. Consider also the position you are going for. Think about how you can position your personal brand for that particular role. What would be some of the key words or phrases to describe someone in that position and how can you include some of those words in your communication? Commitment; innovative; taking pride; may be some of the core values of that company. Have you displayed those qualities in your past position and is there a way to explain that?
Talk about your achievements well and tasks you’ve accomplished using language that positions you as the ideal candidate. As with all communication – it pays to listen and try not to interrupt. Tune into the conversation and try to keep your voice even, well-modulated and at the same vocal level as the interviewer – not too loud or too soft.
If you are being interviewed by a panel, make sure you direct your answers and gaze to all people. Address the person who asked the question first and after a few seconds make eye contact with the others as well.
Your skills, knowledge and experience will secure the interview. It is confident, interpersonal skills that will help you stand out.
Read last week’s blog Leaders Love Their Brand and Business
Want to know more about standing out in a crowd? Subscribe to my regular eNews and receive your copy of the eBook The Power of Personal Public Relations.