8 Non-Verbal Ways to Nail an Interview
Monster Contributing Writer
Have you ever felt that you absolutely nailed an interview yet did not get the job? Were you perfect for the position and have no idea why you were passed up? Yeah, me too. It can be very disheartening. Having been on both sides of the fence, I have learned that an interview can, very often, have very little to do with the candidate’s qualifications or experiences; it often comes down to the intangible, subliminal impressions that the interviewers leave with.
The golden rule is to never forget that the person who is interviewing you is, you know, an actual person. They have belief systems, prejudices and tolerances just like the rest of us. As much as you would like to believe that human emotion does not enter into the hiring equation, it does. And that is why you should take every effort to make sure that all the impressive things that you say in an interview are firmly backed up by the things that you don’t.
Look the part
This does not necessarily mean wear a suit and tie. You need to factor in the industry, the company and the position for which you are applying. Use your best judgment to determine what is appropriate. But let me tell you what is not appropriate: revealing the majority of your chest hair; t-shirts with offensive memes; strong body odour; dirty fingernails; political paraphernalia. Be smart – dress appropriately, take a shower and look good. Pretend you are going on a date.
It is never a bad idea to lay an iPad down on the table, regardless if you intend on using it. It shows the interviewer that you have prepared something in advance. If you don’t have an iPad, a laptop bag, brief case or just a binder can work well. Of course, it certainly helps if you have actually prepared something as well. The appearance of being prepared can be just as important as being prepared.
I can’t stress this enough. Always arrive early and announce yourself. If an interviewer has to wait for you, you have probably blown your chance. (If you happen to arrive late, you had better be breathing heavily and with a killer story).
A high school teacher of mine kept a pool cue behind his desk that he would use to push against your forehead if you slouched during one of his classes. Yes, we hated him but he taught us all a valuable lesson: sit up straight, especially when you are being evaluated. It makes you look alert, engaged and optimistic. You wouldn’t believe how often candidates look like they are about to fall asleep during an interview.
Do not look at your watch or you cell phone. If you are short on time, announce it at the beginning of the interview. Always look at the person who is interviewing you and do not make it seem that you would rather be elsewhere. Keep your answers succinct and relevant.
Follow their lead
Don’t sit until instructed. Don’t be overly casual unless they initiate. Don’t eat, drink or chew gum unless they offer. If you are being interviewed over a meal, order conservatively. Do not order alcohol unless they do first. This may sound deflating but you need to let them establish the protocol as they will be watching to see how you behave.
Use your hands
Look at any good sports commentator and you will see that they have very expressive hands. It not only demonstrates great enthusiasm on the part of the speaker, it also keeps the listener engaged in what they are saying. An interviewer will be more willing to let you speak if you are able to make your answers engaging. This will also help you against fidgeting. Speaking of which…
You have every right to be a bit nervous and it is expected. But try not to tap your feet, or shake your leg, or rap your fingers, or crack your knuckles, or pull on your collar, or twiddle your thumbs, or tousle your hair, or pull on your earrings, or pick your teeth, or chew your lip. While you may not end up with a pool cue in your face, you may not give off a stellar first impression if you are a twitching mess. Even worse, you may actually make your interviewer nauseous with all your fidgeting.
In the end don’t forget that the final verdict does not depend on you and many other factors may play when an interviewer reaches a hiring decision. That being said, make sure you always put your best foot forward, stay and remain professional at all times and do not feel discouraged. The job is definitely out there and following up this advice will make it easier for the interviewer to favour you.