Your nonverbal cues during an interview are just as important as your stellar resume. Make sure you're sending the right ones.
As a freelance writer and a Certified Professional Resume Writer, I am a stickler for using the appropriate words, placing commas in the correct places, and ensuring that written communication reads well. When I work on resumes for clients, I tend to take this detail-orientation to a new level. Will someone really notice that the left margin is 1.1” and the right margin is 1.2”? Maybe or maybe not. However, I know it and want to ensure that it appears professional for the reader. After all, a successful resume is written with the audience or reader in mind.
Even if the resume is “perfect,” all of this work can be undone in a few seconds if the interviewee does not have excellent nonverbal communication skills. Within the first seconds of meeting the job candidate, an interviewer will make a judgment on the interviewee. Much of this will be based on the appearance of the candidate and how the person acts during the interview.
Here are some easy-to-implement job interview tips I typically give clients when they are preparing for the job interview:
1. Shake hands firmly
As a woman, I am particularly in-tune to this and want to ensure I don't have a “dead-fish” handshake. Show them you are confident with a nice, firm handshake.
2. Make eye contact
This does not mean staring, but this does mean you are not looking at the ceiling or at the floor for the duration of the meeting. Look people in the eye and show them you are ready to talk business. And, if there is more than one person conducting the interview, be sure to look at each person.
3. Sit up straight in your chair
Your mom (and mine!) was right. Slouching gives a bad impression that you don't care about the person talking to you and it looks sloppy. Sitting up straight will also help you to listen more intently. Make sure your feet are planted firmly on the floor and the small of your back is against the chair.
4. Appreciate the power of your appearance
This doesn't mean you have to purchase a brand-new three-piece suit. It does mean you should dress in a nice outfit, ensure it is not wrinkly, and take your time getting ready.
5. Pay attention
When the interviewer is speaking to you, nod your head at the appropriate times and take notes if you think you may forget something important. These communication cues show that you are interested in what he or she is saying.
6. Be friendly
This includes smiling when you meet people that work at the business. From greeting the receptionist upon your arrival to shaking hands with the interviewer(s) when you leave, your communication skills matter throughout the entire process.
Several months ago I conducted a mock-interview with a soon-to-be college graduate. When I arrived at our meeting place, he was dressed in a suit, stood up to greet me, shook my hand, and had a portfolio in front of him. That was a client that understood the power of nonverbal communication.
Before going on that interview, practice with someone and have them tell you the nonverbal signals you are sending. Or, if you are able to do so, videotape yourself and watch the recording. Emphasize what is going well and modify the behaviors and nonverbal communication cues that distract from your professionalism. You may be surprised at things you are doing and don't even know it. Taking the time to address it now will ensure you are giving the appropriate, professional, and proper nonverbal communication signals. For more, here are 5 ways to exude confidence during a job interview.
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