While you might be ready to explode with anxiety, here are some quick tips on body language to help you play it cool (or at least look like you are) for when the big interview day finally comes knocking.
- Start strong: Your interviewer approaches you in the waiting room. What now? Nothing says confidence like a firm handshake. Grasp their hand without crushing it, smile, make eye contact. Above all, remember to make eye contact – it instantly establishes rapport and conveys mutual understanding and attention. Approach the person with an open stance, which signals friendliness and honesty.
- Maintain Interest: When you sit down to talk, don’t slouch or lean back – both imply disinterest. Sit straight up and lean slightly towards your interviewer, suggesting respect and attentiveness. Be sure to nod occasionally, smile and leave your hands casually in your lap or resting on the arms of the chair. You can also try paying attention to your interviewer’s body language to make sure you are both on the same page. Try not to mirror negative body language; this is an easy trap to fall in to and is often a trap set by sneaky interviewers to catch out unsuspecting candidates. Be professional but also friendly and warm.
- Don’t be distracting: By playing with your hair, rubbing or scratching your skin, you may come off as nervous and untrustworthy. Likewise, don’t cross your arms or lean towards the exit – your interviewer might find you standoffish, distant, or disengaged. Keep the focus on the interviewer and what they are saying – people are naturally flattered by attention. It might be hard to remain focused when there is a cacophony of noise right out side your room, or if current employees are doing the conga around the office, but be strong, remain focused and keep eye contact. Interviewers will notice your attention and determination to remain focused.
- Remember to relax: Breathe, you’re almost there. Imagine yourself at once alert and at ease. Smile. You look great. Answer a couple more questions and ask a few of your own. Stress shows in your face and throughout your entire body. It’s very difficult to feign relaxation – you actually have to be relaxed. To do this, make sure you practice relaxation techniques regularly. (see our top 10 tips for more info on this)
- End Strong: Wrapping up? Stand up, smile, and shake hands after the interview is over. Be respectful and thank the other person for their time. Exchange the necessary pleasantries and leave slowly, chin up. There is a reason for expressions like “chin up” – our expressions and posture really do indicate important things.
Whether you get the job or not, at least you went in to the interview with style and grace, and communicated your intentions with confidence and professionalism. With a bit of luck, your body language will have been the icing on the cake. Your interviewer will remember you as a confident, assertive, friendly, and honest applicant – all the important things that get you the job.
Making the right first impression
How can you ensure people are judging you accurately and also seeing your best side? You never want to give people an inauthentic impression — many people can intuitively feel if someone is being fake immediately. However, any time you meet someone for the first time, you always want to start on the right foot. Here are a few ways you can make sure people’s first impression of you is a good one:
- Set an intention. The most important thing to do for giving a good impression is to set your intention. This is especially important before any kind of big event where you would be meeting a lot of people — i.e. conferences, networking events or friend’s parties. As you get ready or when you are driving over think about what kind of people you want to meet and what kind of interactions you want to have. This can be an incredibly grounding experience and works very well to focus on what kind of energy you want to have for your event.
- Think about your ornaments. Clothes, make-up, jewellery, watches and shoes are all types of ornamentation and people definitely take these into account when making initial judgments. I highly recommend getting some of your favourite outfits or ornaments together and asking friends you trust what they think of when they see them. For many men, they do not realize that their watch can say a lot about them. For women, purses and large earrings or jewellery can also indicate a lot to a new person they are meeting. Make sure that what you are wearing and how you do your hair or make-up says what you want it to say to the people you are meeting for the first time.
- Be Conscious of Your Body Language. Body language is a crucial part of first impressions. Everything from your posture to how you carry yourself to the way you’re angling your body. Often, simply being aware of your body language can result in immediate improvements. Another way to examine your body language is to look at yourself on a video walking around a room. Subconscious cues to keep in mind include noticing where you point your feet, the position of your shoulders, and the way you shake hands (this is something that can make a big impact in something like a job interview so beware!)
- Avoid bad days. People who go to cocktail events, mixers or even job interviews, after having had a bad day typically continue to have a bad day. If you are in a depressed or anxious mood, others will pick up on this from your facial expressions, comments and body language. If you’re having a bad day, stay home! Otherwise, find a way to snap yourself out of your bad mood. Try working out or watching funny YouTube videos before events it will help you feel more social and in a good mood. Interview nerves can play havoc with your mood, so use
practical steps to reduce the impact your nerves have. Rehearse answers, practice smiling and greeting perspective employers, think about times when you have over comes nerves in the past and put your self in the same frame of mind you were in then, or at least relive those situations. It's amazing how your mind can revisit old situations in vivid detail when it needs to!
- Be interested and interesting. If you are truly interested in meeting people and are open to learning about who they are, they will get this in a first impression. We have all had the experience of meeting someone and knowing instantly that they were dragged here by a friend and are just waiting to get out the door and head home. When you are meeting people for the first time approach others with a genuine interest in who they are. This is often contagious and you will have better conversations and lasting connections when you are interested because they become interested. At Motorpoint we often run assessment centres for perspective employees for customer facing roles such as Sales Executive or Collections Assistants; one of the main behaviours we actively seek out is the ability of a delegate to generate and moreover, show interest in other peoples ideas and/or thoughts. Being interested and being interesting are key factors that successful employees will have in all walks of life. The ability to demonstrate in a short space of time that you actually care about what a customer has to say, be it positive or negative, will set you apart from your peers and will allow you to really connect on a personal level.
Top 10 Interview Tips
- Study the company
One of the best job interview strategies that most candidates ignore is to study the current events of the company. Knowing what the current events of the company is important so that you can ask pertinent questions. Doing so will show the interviewer that you have done your homework, and also have a genuine interest in the company. This strategy will definitely help your job interview.
- Know your resume/covering letter
As a candidate, you should be very familiar with your resume and covering letter. In any job interview, anything on your resume is at the interviewer's disposal. Implementing this job interview strategy will help build credibility with your interviewer. It is your responsibility to convince the interviewer that you can come in and do the job. Speaking intelligently about how each of your previous positions will help do this is one of the best job interview strategies to follow. Here at Motorpoint we put the emphasis on the covering letter and our 5 bespoke questons that you will fill in as part of the application process. So the best thing to do is to be honest, only write answers that are a fair reflection of you as a person. The main aim throughout our recruitment process is to measure personality and value match and these are the two things you can really communicate to us by being honest and transparent in your cover letter and 5 questions.
- Prepare an interview emergency kit
Many candidates don't properly prepare for a job interview. Getting together a "job interview kit" is a great job interview strategy to follow. Suggested items for the kit include extra copies of your resume, directions to the office, a bottle of water, eye drops, pens, and notepad. But you should only bring the extra copies of your resume into the office with you, preferably in a portfolio. Remember if you have never visited the place you are interviewing at before do you really want the first time you make that journey the day you are on a highly time sensitive deadline...? I would suggest you do a trial run prior to that all important interview (and always be aware of the impact rush-hour traffic can make to journey times)
- Study the job description
After landing an interview, you need to study the job description to truly understand what the interviewer is looking for. If the description calls for attentiveness to detail, you will want to tailor the discussion accordingly. Knowing this, you can navigate the interview and discuss examples from previous jobs that will exemplify this trait. Do this for all significant traits or qualities that you identify in the job description. This is one of the best job interview strategies I have used, and know that it can bring you success.
- Build rapport
You know the saying, "There's never a second chance to make a first impression?" (see first impressions tips and advise!) That holds very true in the case of job interviews. That is why building rapport is such an important job interview strategy. Shake hands (not too firm, not too weak), make eye contact (but don't stare!), and smile. Put those three together when you first meet your interviewer and it will set a positive tone for the rest of the interview.
- Make eye contact
Making positive eye contact is one of the best job interview strategies to follow. Eye contact is one of the strongest forms of nonverbal communication. A person's qualities and personality can be detected simply based on eye contact. Making direct eye contact communicates confidence and high self-esteem, two key qualities employers look for in candidates.
Thus, it is very important that you make eye contact when you first meet interviewer and shake hands. And during the interview, it is important to make eye contact, not only when you talk, but also as you listen. Simply doing this job interview strategy will greatly help your chances of success in an interview.
- Body language
Just as eye contact speaks volumes about you, so does your body language. Proper body language conveys confidence and high self-esteem. During the interview, things like sitting up straight with your chest out and keeping a pleasant demeanour on your face will project confidence. The interviewer will be aware of this, and it will help you stand out in his/her mind. One of my pet peeves is "busy hands" this is when the interviewee doesn't quite know what to do with their hands as they talk, or indeed listen. Golden rules: Don't fiddle with a pen! Don't pick up your cup of tea/coffee unless you plan on drinking it (moving it around the desk is very common with nervous interviewees). I would suggest when you speak, unless you really need to use your hands to demonstrate a point, that you clasp them in front of you (interlocking fingers always looks non-threatening and will stop you from falling in to the "busy hands" trap. Or for more extreme cases, sit on your hands!
- Display your skills with concrete examples
When it comes to discussing their skills, many candidates make the mistake of "telling" instead of "showing." One of the best job interview strategies is to use concrete examples to demonstrate their skills to the interviewer. For example, if one of your skills is successfully handling multiple tasks at once, providing an example of how you do that will help paint a picture for the interviewer. It also gives the interviewer something to "hold on to" once the interview is over, and helps him/her remember you when it comes to decision time.
- Be yourself
A common mistake that many candidates make is not being themselves. Some feel that they need to fit a certain mould and act accordingly. This will only end up hurting both parties in the end when your "true" personality comes out. You will be surprised how easy it is to detect insincerity during an interview. Thus, it is important to be professional, but also maintain your true essence. When you do this, your sincerity and genuineness will be picked up by the interviewer. This is one of the best job interview strategies to implement, and will go a long way in determining your success.
- Follow up quickly
After the job interview, send a thank you note to the interview. These days, an email is fine, but traditionally a handwritten card is sent. Whatever method you choose, do it promptly after the interview. The correspondence should be sent the next day after the interview. Many hiring decisions are made quickly these days, so timeliness is very important.
You now have 10 of the best job interview tactics to follow. There are many aspects of a successful job interview, but if you implement these 10 best job interview tactics listed above, your chances of success will skyrocket!
Preparing for Interview Questions
First of all prepare for job specific questions, study the ad where it was posted. If multitasking is listed as a requirement, be ready to show you can multitask. Think about times when you have overcome issues relating to multi-tasking, simply saying "I'm great at multi-tasking" doesn't really demonstrate the ability.
Next, research the industry. Are there any hot button issues you should be educated about? Read trade publications and talk to people currently working in the industry if it is new to you. Learn about the company by reviewing their website, any current news, and even the most recent annual report if it is publically traded. Know their most important products and their biggest competitors.
The dreaded "What is your biggest weakness? question
Next you should prepare for questions about your own shortcomings. First and foremost there is the ubiquitous, "What is your biggest weakness?" Most people know that their weaknesses should actually be strengths in disguise. Make it real, but don't get too creative. "I sometimes take on too much," is acceptable; "I sometimes take on too much and miss deadlines" is not. Recently I've heard a few older professionals answer, quite truthfully, that their biggest weakness is they are not terribly computer literate. That might be endearing in a social environment, but in business it translates to: "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Think hard about the message your "weakness" sends. You also want to practice for specific weaknesses that your resume reveals. Be prepared to answer for a lack of experience, gaps in your work history, or even for being overqualified. Make sure the answer you sculpt sends the right message. Having a two year gap to go to school or care for family is admissible; a two year gap because you couldn't find a job is not. Similarly, if you are overqualified, your response must convince the employer you won't bolt for greener pastures as soon as the opportunity arises.
The third type of question will account for the bulk of most interviews. I recommend having at least ten well-crafted examples of things you have done well for other employers. If you are fresh out of school, use examples from your education. Use the acronym PAR to develop your answers: problem, action, result. Explain succinctly the challenge, the steps you took, and the outcome. Your result should be quantifiable. For example, "When I took the job at XYZ the Recruitment costs in our office were more than 9% of income, the second highest in the firm. By convincing a few of the weaker performers to take an early retirement package and redistributing their responsibilities among other personnel instead of replacing them, I brought our recruitment costs well below 4%, the lowest in the company, within the first year."
Once you have scripted your interview responses, practice them often. Practice in front of a mirror. Do you communicate enthusiasm? Record yourself on tape or video and listen to your voice. Do you need to speak more slowly? Do you use a lot of annoying "ums"? Have a friend pretend to interview you and give constructive feedback. When you interview in earnest, your preparation will show in your confidence and ease.