Your body language has more of an impact on your career than you’d believe. According to Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA,
The three elements account differently for our liking for the person who puts forward a message concerning their feelings: words account for 7%, tone of voice accounts for 38%, and body language accounts for 55% of the liking.
Body language is our non-verbal communication of our feelings and thoughts; we judge other people on their body language, and we are constantly being judged by our body language. Due to the fact that so much is communicated outside of the words that we speak, it’s important to be aware of our bodies, and to work to give off the correct impression. These are a few things you should keep in mind about body language in the office.
Don’t Cross Your Arms
This isn’t a new one; we’ve been told that crossed arms are a poor signal since we were young. But, it bears repeating. When you cross your arms, you are literally creating a physical barrier between you and the person/people you are addressing; that’s an immediate signal to them that you don’t want to be a part of whatever conversation that you’re having. Crossing arms may be an unconscious defense mechanism for some people when they are nervous or uncomfortable, so try to be aware of your body in situations where you are not feeling 100% at ease.
One of the tell-tale signs of nervousness is fidgeting. Nervousness is definitely not a characteristic that you want to be known for in the office. Nervousness dictates discomfort, and your colleagues will begin to scrutinize the reasons for your apparent discomfort. If you’re a natural fidgeter, try to keep your movements to a minimum when interacting with your coworkers.
Maintain Eye Contact (But Don’t Stare)
It’s important to maintain eye contact with anyone that you’re speaking to; it builds a feeling of connectedness between you and your audience. An avoidance of eye contact signals untrustworthiness to others, and that’s the last thing that you want to be known for within the office.
But, it’s important not to let your eye contact cross the line into staring. Very intense, unbroken eye contact will make others uncomfortable, and it can be interpreted as aggressive or even creepy. It’s a delicate balance. Work to read the body language of your company in order to gauge the proper amount of eye contact necessary.
Remember Your Posture
Always stand up straight. Good posture is a universal signal to others that you are sure of yourself. Elongate your spine, push your shoulders back, and keep your head held high. Take pride in how your carry yourself, and others will respond positively to your aura of power and self assuredness.
In last month’s blog, I begin to delve into some of the most important tips and tricks of the interviewing preparation period. If you follow those three steps, you will have a solid foundation to work off of when walking into your interview.
But one must always prepare for the worst, and there is always the possibility that you will not be ready for a question or scenario that an interviewer throws at you. So, for part two of “Interview Like a Pro”, we’ll be covering what to do if you end up stumped during your interview.
Take a Deep Breath and Remain Calm
The last thing that you want to do when you feel stuck is to panic. Of course, this is easier said than done, but it’s of the utmost importance that you don’t allow your brain to slip into a frenzy. Once panic sets in, it will be extremely difficult to recover, and your body will start to have physical reactions to the stress. Try to avoid blurting out the first thing that comes to mind, and do not immediately say “I don’t know”.
The key is to remember to breathe. It’s been proven that deep breaths help to clear your mind. Remind yourself that it is perfectly fine to not know the full answer, and then focus on coming up with something viable.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
It is perfectly acceptable to ask for clarification if you feel as though the question is unclear. Depending on your industry, it may even be expected that you ask questions. In web development interviews, interviewers actually prefer that you ask questions, so that they can have access to your thought process.
Pro Tip: Talking through your response may actually help you to clarify your thought process.
Be Okay With (Gracefully) Admitting Defeat
If you’ve tried talking through your thought process, and still can’t come to a conclusion( or you know for a fact that the question you are being asked requires specific knowledge you do not have, it’s okay to say that you truly do not know. Promise that you will follow up with the correct answer post-interview.
Always send a follow up! If you promised an answer, make sure you send it. Otherwise, send a follow-up email that thanks the interviewer(s) for their time.
Landing a job interview is always cause for a celebration. But, once that initial endorphin high wears off, it’s time to start getting ready for the big day. As a human resources professional, I’ve been a part of countless interviews, and have witnessed interviewees with a wide range of interviewing aptitudes. I like to tell people that interviewing is like taking a test. You would never go into a final exam without studying, and you should never show up to an interview without taking some time to prep. Use this post as a study guide, and ace your next interview.
Research, Research, Research
The one mistake that I see time and time again is a candidate forgetting to do their research. Research everything that you possibly can, but at the very least learn about the person interviewing you, the position you are interviewing for, and the company that you are trying to work for. The internet truly holds the answers to everything that you need to know. Search LinkedIn for your interviewer, and learn a little bit about their background. Jot down some talking points about a project they’ve worked on, or the school they went to; everyone loves the opportunity to make a human connection in such a professional setting. Browse through the company’s webpage, and determine what their mission statement is. Be sure that you will be able to come up with insightful and educated answers to any questions you may be asked about the company.
Practice Makes Perfect
Everyone knows that interviews are nerve wracking experiences. One way to ease nerves and guarantee that you won’t blank when asked a question is to practice your answers. Again, look to the internet to find common interview questions, and practice answering them with a friend, or by yourself in front of a mirror.
ProTip: Craft your story. Don’t memorize cookie cutter answers. Instead, remember some key talking points and work to become comfortable with telling your interview exactly how and why you would be perfect for the job.
Find The Right Outfit
First impressions truly are everything, and a poor outfit choice could be detrimental to your chances. The rule of thumb is to be as professional as possible, and it’s generally always better to be overdressed than underdressed. But, on the same note, be sure to research the company culture. Many industries want to be sure that you’re a culture fit, and wearing a full suit to a startup where everyone wears sweatpants could also hurt your chances of getting the job. No matter what the wardrobe situation is, always make sure that your clothing is clean, well tailored, and ironed.
Be sure to check back next month for Part 2 of Interview Like A Pro!
Every professional should be constantly working to develop their networking skill set. The word “networking” is thrown around in almost every career-oriented workshop or classroom, but many people do not fully understand the benefits of proper networking, and struggle with determining exactly what networking entails. In my line of work, I’m constantly seeing well-networked individuals flourish, because a great network provides great opportunities. These are a few networking tips to follow whether you’re just getting into the game, or a seasoned networking vet looking for a refresher.
Practice Makes Perfect
Networking can feel very overwhelming and intimidating to some people. If you’re an introvert, the best thing to do is to practice. Find a few networking groups and start making contacts. Dr. Ivan Misner, Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Business Network International, says that you should create four different networks of people:
- Casual Contacts: The individuals you meet by attending mixers and general networking events.
- Strong Contacts: Business professionals you interact with at industry specific events and groups. (Depending on your industry, you may be able to find groups that gather frequently with the specific goal of creating strong business relationships.)
- Knowledge Contacts: People you meet through professional associations.
- Online Contacts: Casual contacts that you connect with online. (We are in the age of the internet, and your online presence can be the key to your next big career move. Linkedin is currently the most effective online networking site available. )
Network Before You Need To
If you’re just getting out of school, be sure to keep in contact with professors, classmates, family friends, etc so that you have a network of people to turn to during the first job hunt. If you’re thinking about changing jobs or industries, start attending events and bulking up your network before you feel like you MUST leave. The one thing that “seasoned” (trustworthy) networkers shy away from are individuals who feel desperate. Try to network with people when you don’t have an alternative motive, so that your interactions come across as genuine.
Maintain Your Network
Remember that your network is made up of people. You have to make sure that you build and maintain relationships with the people you connect with. The last thing that you want to do is be the person that only reaches out when you need something.
One great way to maintain your network is to set up a calendar of birthdays and special occasions. Sending a quick text or email on those days will make you stand out as genuine and engaged. Outside of the special occasions, make sure to send thank you notes, set up coffee dates, or send over articles you think might be of interest.
Stay tuned for some great articles.