From the moment we meet someone, we form an impression about them. And it’s the same with a job interview. As soon as your interviewer meets you, they form an impression about what sort of person you are, what kind of employee you would make, and what you might be like to work with. Even when we’re not speaking, we are still communicating.
The way we move, our gestures, and what we wear all say something about who we are, so how can you make sure that the first impression is the one you want to make?
Make an entrance
Ok, so if you’re not a fan of the job interview, the interview room can be a scary place. When we enter the unknown territory or somewhere that might pose a threat to us, we tend to be cautious (understandably!) and walk more slowly. To the person interviewing you, slowing down can suggest reluctance or lack of confidence. Rather than entering the room at full speed, or dawdling, try pausing at the door before entering at your normal pace.
More than likely, the only physical contact you’ll have with your interviewer will be the opening handshake. When it comes to shaking hands, ‘firm but friendly’ is the best way. Nobody likes a limp handshake – this can suggest a weak character. But also avoid snapping the interviewer’s hand off at the wrist, which would denote over-confidence or even arrogance.
Look into my eyes…
Eye contact is vital, especially when you’re being asked and answering interview questions. But don’t overdo it – you’re not taking part in a staring contest! A quick look away to your CV or application form will give you a few seconds. You should take care to address everyone in the room if you are in a panel interview situation. If you can, direct interview questions to the different panel members when you’re asked if you have any questions.
Smile to succeed
Don’t forget to smile. It helps you to relax and makes you appear personable and approachable. Smiling also makes it easier to put expression into your voice, which suggests knowledge and enthusiasm.
Slouching and tipping back on the chair should be left to schoolchildren. Remember to sit up as it makes you look attentive, and leaning forward a little makes you look as if you are taking an active interest. Avoid crossing your arms or legs as this creates a defensive barrier.
Your physical gestures should be open and expansive – you want to try to involve the interviewer in what you are saying. Keep palms up and open to suggest honesty, and avoid pointing or banging fists on the table to emphasize a point. Be careful though, keep your gestures to a minimum, you don’t want to look as though you’re dancing!
Read the signs
Finally, don’t forget an interview is a two-way process. Remember to read your interviewer’s body language. As you launch into your well-rehearsed speech answers to the interview questions being fired at you, beware if the interviewer folds his or her arms!