You may have the best answers to the interview questions, but if your nonverbal skills are lacking, it won’t matter one iota! Nonverbal signals can relay your attitude, outlook, interests and approach. “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” – Peter F. Drucker.
In her article “A Second Look at First Impressions” Cheryl Ferguson notes that everything you do from how you treat the receptionist to the interview team, to what you are wearing, to what you say and do not say factor into the hiring decision.
One Human Resources Director revealed how one candidate kept her waiting while he continued a cell phone conversation in the lobby. “Arrogance or the impression that I’m more important than you, or my time is more valuable than your time,” screams DIFFICULT EMPLOYEE to everyone who comes in contact with this type of individual.
So how do you use nonverbal communication to your advantage? Susan Heathfield in “Believe What You See” supplies the successful job seeker with some helpful tips:
Attentiveness and eye contact – to look engaged in the conversation, lean in slightly to close some of the distance between you and the employer. And make eye contact! If you spend the whole interview letting your eyes roam all around the room and rarely make eye contact you risk the employer assuming that you have little confidence or that you just don’t care. But be careful—if you stare without ceasing, this relays overly aggressive behavior.
Facial Expressions and Body Language – entire books have been written on this topic, so we just want to touch on it lightly here. Just make sure your words match up with your body language. If they do not, this indicates serious discomfort or lying. And do NOT walk into an interview and become too familiar with the interviewer or your surroundings. A candidate who leans way back in a chair with his leg crossed at the knee, shows cockiness or aggressiveness. Sit with both feet on the floor and your back against the lower back of the chair.
Did you know that if you constantly tap your pen, fidget with your jewelry at the end of sentences or stroke your hair every few minutes that you are radiating how uncomfortable you are? The employer is left to interpret whether you are uncomfortable with your skills and abilities or the setting?
- Allow a positive attitude to be reflected in your answers.
- Prepare examples and stories to showcase your strengths.
- Answer honestly if confronted with past weaknesses in your background, but turn it to your advantage. Never badmouth a past employer or company.
- Breathe deeply and stay calm. Employers are discovering whether or not you have the competence, composure and confidence to succeed on the job.
- Realize that the interviewer is probably nervous also. If they do not find the ideal candidate to fill the position, it will reflect poorly on them.
- Dress appropriately and be well-groomed
- Sit up straight
- Establish eye contact
- Arrive early and allow yourself time to relax
- Have a firm handshake
- Be enthusiastic
- Be respectful and courteous
- Speak clearly
- Answer questions directly
- Be honest and sincere
- Be consistent
- Demonstrate self-confidence
- Have a positive attitude
- Know your strengths and weaknesses
- Market yourself
- Expect a professional interview
- Wear too much jewelry, make-up or perfume
- Look around the room or out of the window
- Keep them waiting
- Bring friends or family with you
- Act nervous and fidget
- Act bored or tired
- Call the interviewer by their first name
- Mutter or say “umm” or “ahh”
- Exaggerate, lie or brag
- Try to hide anything
- Be intimidated by the competition
- Be cocky, rude or joke too much
- Be overly modest or shy
- Take any question lightly
- Come across with “What can you do for me?”