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Wowing the Interviewer

If someone told you that what you DON’T SAY is more important than what you DO SAY, would you believe them?  Think about the last time you walked into a store and a salesperson approached you.  He may have said, “If you need help with anything, my name is Frank.” But what you felt from his aggressive body language was, “I make money off commission so I’m going to hover over you to make sure that if you buy something, I get the credit.”  It’s the same way with an interview.  Since only a small percentage of the impression you leave with an interviewer is made up of what you actually say, that leaves the vast majority of the impression left up to your dress and body language, which includes facial expressions, gaze, posture, gestures and tone of voice.  Making the right choices in more subtle communication can greatly improve your chances of landing your next job.

Even In the Waiting Room?
Yes.  Shuffling through notes and fidgeting as you wait for an interviewer portrays a lack of confidence and will most certainly make its way from the receptionist to the interviewer.  Review your notes before you get there so you can casually peruse magazines and take in the environment while you wait, sharing a friendly smile with employees as they walk by with that knowing “I’ve been there” look.

First Impression
It has been said that 90% of the impression you leave with someone is made in the first 90 seconds, so making sure you exude confidence, interest and warmth within that time is very important. 

Entering the Room
Slowing down, or peering into the room before entering shows a lack of confidence.  Walk at an even pace when entering a room.

The Handshake
You want a handshake that says, “I’m a friendly person who is confident that I can do this job.”  No sweaty palms or clammy hands.  Warm, dry hands are the way to go while holding the interviewer’s hand firmly for two to three shakes up and down.  Make sure you do not crush the other person’s hand and come across as too aggressive.  Believe it or not, some interviewers don’t have a strong handshake, or fake a weak one to see how you’ll compensate.

Taking a Seat
Wait for the interviewer to offer you a seat, if the interviewer doesn’t offer you a seat within a comfortable amount of time, its okay to ask, “Where would you like me to sit?”

During the Interview
Even though you may have made a big part of your impression already, you still have to hold your own for the duration of the average 30 minute interview. 

Sitting Posture
Sitting up straight and leaning slightly forward indicates interest but be careful not to lean too far forward and appear aggressive.  Crossing your legs at the knees can also seem aggressive, so be sure to sit with an even stance.  It is okay to cross your legs at the ankles or place one foot firmly on the floor in front of you with the other foot under the chair with your toe resting on the ground.  This position indicates confidence and readiness.   Men should avoid resting their ankle on their knee, which can appear arrogant.

Eye-contact
Maintain good eye contact with the interviewer throughout the discussion.  A gaze of more than 10 seconds can appear like a stare, so it’s okay to take natural breaks to glance at something else, but when you are listening or speaking it’s important to look at your interviewer.

When interviewed by more than one person, look alternately at each person when you are speaking and at whoever is speaking when you are listening.

Voice Tone
Be expressive and passionate about what you are saying, with the facial expression matching the content of your speech.  Speak in a normal conversational tone, making sure your voice doesn’t creep higher than is natural for you.

What to Do With Your Hands
Touching your face or nose can give the impression of deceptiveness so it’s best to keep them away from your face and use them naturally as you speak for emphasis without seeming like you are bringing in an airliner for a landing. Waving your arms around too much express your point shows weakness, as if what you are saying does not have enough impact to be heard.

Never cross your arms across your chest; a defensive and defiant stance which will be read by just about all interviewers negatively.

To avoid projecting disinterest, don’t pick lint from your suit during the interview or place your hands in your pockets.  Be sure nervous happens don’t rear their ugly heads, like chewing, clicking or tapping your pen.

Mirroring
It’s a well known fact that people feel most comfortable with people like themselves and one way to appear similar to the interviewer is to subtly mirror their body language back to them.  For example, if they lean forward, you lean forward, if they speak slowly and softly, you do the same.  The goal is to create comfort with the interviewer, so they think to themselves, “this person would fit in here.”

Remember, interviewers want to like you and in most cases will go out of their way to show body language that puts you at ease.  This is, after all, an interview to see how you handle things, so don’t be surprised if some of them use their body language to see how you react to a situation, such as standing too close showing intimidation, taking a call to see how you react to distraction, or giving you a weak handshake to see how you modify yours.  It’s important to take it all in stride and send the message to them that you went there to give.

Practicing your body language before your interview will help you remain natural and comfortable during the interview – after all, you don’t want to seem like you are trying to remember dance steps.

How FPC Can Help
FPC recruiters work with candidates to make sure they are comfortable and confident heading into an interview.  They brief candidates on the full job description and the interviewer’s , providing a head start in rehearsing body language to ace the interview.
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