Today’s economy has affected us all in one way or another. And for those that are looking for employment, in a job market that has few openings but many applicants, this time can be very stressful. I remember when my sons were in that position, not that long ago, and can remember the anxiety of and waiting for the phone call after their interviews. Thankfully, they both found employment with good companies and in their field, but many haven’t been so lucky. So when Rebecca, from The Cadence Group, contacted me about today’s guest, I jumped at the opportunity, in hopes this may help someone you know. Please help me welcome Mr. Paul Freiberger!
Paul Freiberger is the author of When Can You Start? How to Ace the Interview and Win the Job (Career Upshift Productions, 2013). He is also the President of Shimmering Resumes, a career counseling and professional resume writing company in Northern California.
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Never Underestimate the Power of Body Language
Your words, whether they are the words that make up your professional resume or the words that make up your side of the job-interview conversation, certainly speak volumes. They are not, however, the only way that you communicate, especially in that interview, and they may not even be the most important part of your interview presentation. Some experts maintain that nonverbal cues account for 93 percent of human communication. Others dispute this, arguing that body language is worth “as little” as 60 percent.
Even if the lower estimate is more accurate, it’s no exaggeration at all to say that an applicant’s body language can sabotage a presentation that would otherwise have been a resounding success.
The problem for applicants is that body language is, above all, an unconscious means of communication in ordinary interactions. We do not tend to be aware of the signals we are giving out. When we receive those signals, we may not be able to articulate what gave us a negative impression of another person, but, even though we can’t put the problem into words, we know there was definitely something that turned us off. The interviewee’s job is to become conscious of the unconscious gestures and mannerisms that have a profound effect on the other person in the room.
Given the unconscious nature of all this nonverbal communication, what can an applicant do?
One option is to record your performance in a practice interview. The camera’s eye is, if nothing else, objective, and video evidence can give you all the clues you need to observe that your body language is not hurting your cause. If that’s not an option, there are a number of general rules that should be part of your very conscious approach to effective interviewing.
• Be aware that your interview performance begins before you even open your mouth. If your tie needs adjustment or a shoelace is untied, pull everything together before you reach the interview location.
• Avoid excessive makeup or fragrance. They may not count as body language per se, but they do make an impression.
• Stand up when greeting people and offer a smile, along with a handshake that strikes a middle ground between the extremes of dead fish and crusher of bones.
• Sit up straight or lean forward slightly.
• Look alert and interested. Nod when appropriate, but try to avoid constant head-bobbing.
• If given the option, avoid sitting or standing too close to the interviewer. As a general rule, anything closer than 20 inches starts to feel like an invasion of personal space.
• Keep the position of your body in line with that of the interviewer. If your position is facing away from the interviewer, it gives the sense that you are not engaged with the process.
• Say your good-byes with the same confidence and positivity that you displayed when you arrived, even if you are convinced that this was the worst of all possible interviews.
• Slouch in your chair or lean toward the door. Neither posture makes you look like you’re interested in the proceedings.
• Touch your face and hair. Some mannerisms can make you look distracted or unforthcoming.
• Fold your arms across your chest, another posture that gives the impression that you’re disengaged or that you’re not open to what’s happening in front of you. It’s a very defensive position.
• Respond with complete neutrality. A blank stare is not just a failure to show interest. It can actually come across as a means of distancing yourself, actually adding a touch of hostility to the conversation.
Of course it’s easier to come across as a positive, interested and engaged candidate when those feelings are genuine. Sometimes, though, our unconscious habits betray us in ways we would not have imagined. Be aware, then, that body language can speak louder than words, and make sure that your nonverbal communication is doing all it can to get you on the payroll.
ABOUT THE BOOK
In a tough job market, only a select few succeed at the interview process. How can you do it? The interview is a key step in the job search process. It is a make-or-break moment that can change your life. In this book, Los Angeles Times award-winning author, Paul Freiberger offers a clear, entertaining guide through interview preparation and proven tools to ace the interview and win the job.
You will learn about:
• The Only Question You Must Be Able to Answer
• Not Telling the Interviewer About Your Weaknesses
• Answering Trick and Oddball Questions
• Devising the Best Questions
• Gaining Confidence in Job Interviews
• Avoiding Interview Mistakes
• Negotiate the Salary You Deserve
Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: Career Upshift Productions (January 25, 2013)
THANKS TO REBECCA AT THE CADENCE GROUP,
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