Today's job market is flooded with candidates. When you reach the interview stage, you will be competing with others who also have the requisite qualifications. How do you stand out and make yourself memorable? Here are some nonverbal cues — and a smattering of verbal reinforcements — that will help differentiate you from the crowd.
1) Move with measured purpose and confidence from the minute you get out of your car (off the bus, out of a taxi) at the interview location. If the interviewer should catch a glimpse of you from a third-story window, you’re already on your way to making a positive first impression.
2) Dress for the industry and position: A graphic designer should have a creative flair without appearing extreme; a banker or accountant should convey a conservative, trustworthy demeanor. If you can’t pinch an inch of fabric with any garment, it’s too tight.
3) Extend a firm handshake to the interviewer before you sit down as well as when the interview is over and you are ready to depart. Two to four pumps while smiling and maintaining eye contact is about right.
4) If the interviewer is behind a desk, choose an armless chair to sit in rather than a loveseat or couch; your gestures will not be restricted or inhibited by the upholstered arms, and a firm piece of furniture is easier to get up and out of gracefully. Try to sit at the same level as the interviewer, but don’t touch anything on the interviewer’s desk or set anything of yours on it.
5) If the interview is conducted at a table, try to sit at a right angle to the interviewer. The second-best location is across the table. Avoid sitting in an adjacent position, as eye contact is difficult and gestures are restrained and ineffective.
6) Wherever you sit, keep your body oriented toward the interviewer, and lean slightly forward to indicate interest.
7) Appropriate eye contact follows the lines of an inverted triangle on the interviewer’s face: back and forth between the eyes, and intermittently dropping to the nose to break the gaze.
8) Keep vocal tones comfortably low and resonant, with enough volume and inflection to create emphasis, hold interest and show enthusiasm. Avoid disfluencies (um … ah …) as well as clutter (I mean … like … you know … basically).
9) If you take notes during the interview, don’t nervously fiddle with your pen or note pad, and don’t let your note-taking interfere with maintaining appropriate eye contact.
10) Follow up with an immediate expression of thanks (email), followed by either a handwritten thank-you note or a letter reviewing interview points and affirming your interest in the position.
Moving Up Unlimited was founded by Kathleen Watson in 2006. The article below was written by Kathleen Watson and Donna Beestman in 2009. The points made are still valid in today’s business climate.
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