Month: February 2021

BODY LANGUAGE

There is a lot of attention being paid to body language in regard to its importance over the course of a job interview. Some experts even say that ninety percent of what we communicate is expressed through body language. Body language is a two-way street between the candidate and the interviewers as well as among the interviewers. An effective candidate must be aware of, and try to control his or her own body language. You should also try to observe, interpret, and respond to the body language of the interviewers.

I learned the importance of my body language the hard way. I was interviewed by a small group of search firm consultants. They seemed friendly and nodded their approval to my responses throughout the interview. As I gained confidence, I became relaxed, sat back in my seat, crossed my legs (which are a little long), and balanced my knee on the edge of the table. I left feeling that I had aced it and would be called back. That didn’t happen.

I reported my rejection to my mentor with a sense of defeat. Based on my feedback my mentor could not diagnose any deficiencies. However, he did know the search consultants and promised to get their feedback the next time he saw them. Several months passed by.

“You’re not going to believe the feedback,” he reported. “They loved your answers. But one of them said that you were too relaxed—even appeared cocky. She said you sat back and put your knee on the edge of the table.”

About a year passed. There I was again interviewing with the same group of search consultants. Needless to say, I leaned forward this time. No sitting back for me, this time. They moved me on in the process, and I get the job.

Just your posture and manner of walking into the room has significance. Stride with an air of confidence and smile at your audience. Your posture should connote self-assurance, not arrogance. Your smile should reflect that you’re pleased to be there. Your first impression means everything. Most people begin forming an impression of you within thirty seconds. You must get off to a good start.

My advice concerning body language over the course of your interview is to lean forward in your seat. Slowly scan the faces and eyes of the interviewers. If they like what you are saying, they will tend to nod and smile, usually subtly.  Nod back even more subtly. Focus on the people who are not giving non-verbal feedback. Watch to see if they exchange knowing looks to one another. Often, you might say something that resonates with an issue they may have previously discussed. A glance, a smile, a frown, a nod, a negative shake of the head between interviewers means you may have confirmed or disagreed with something of interest to them. A negative shake of the head probably means that you have stepped on a potentially explosive issue. Quickly backtrack and clarify your statement, if you can, to neutralize the potential damage.

Your ability to mimic other people’s gestures and postures indicates you are in sync with them. If someone leans forward, lean towards him or her. If someone smiles and nods, then smile and nod back. Practice mimicking at meetings and social gatherings. You’ll find it really works.

Larry Aronstein provides one-on-one coaching in preparing candidates for interviews and in resume preparation. Visit his website at http://www.larryaronstein.com

Ten Rules on How Not to Mess Up Your Interview

  1. Don’t talk too much. Answer each question within two to two and one-half minutes. Give one good example. The panel is working within a tight schedule. Nobody likes a chatter box. If they want to hear more, they will ask you to elaborate.
  2. Answer the question. Stick to the interviewers’ questions. Stay on topic. Panelists commonly ask the same questions to every candidate in order to compare answers. Be careful about getting on a roll and going off on tangents which might result in not answering the question. Not answering the question will be noticed.
  3. Never fake an answer. If you’re asked about something that you don’t know, simply admit that you don’t know. Nobody likes a faker. You should add, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I am a quick learner, and will learn whatever I need to know in order to get the job done.” If you don’t understand the question, it’s acceptable to say that you don’t understand the question and ask if they can repeat or rephrase it.
  4. Don’t overdo It. Laughing too long and too loudly at a joke that’s not all that funny, becoming overly enthusiastic about one of your own answers, being argumentative and emphatic about a minor issue, are all examples of “over doing it.” Professionals maintain an even keel. Act like an adult. Being over-the-top just raises eye brows and generates side glances.
  5. Direct yourself to the whole table. In a group interview, you have to try to please everyone who’s sitting around the table. You can’t afford to please administrators but alienate the teachers. Seek out the middle ground and demonstrate your diplomatic skills. As you speak, slowly look at all of the panelists.
  6. Don’t misrepresent yourself. With the availability of Google, Facebook, and on-line newspapers, it is pretty easy to check out your background. Stretching the truth or misrepresenting yourself and being found out is fatal. The regional educational community is a small circle. You will be checked out.
  7. Say calm. Don’t expect that every answer will be a homerun. Try not to get rattled if you think your answer to a question is weak. As the song says, “Just keep on keepin’ on!”  Interviewers are people too. They know that you’re nervous, and they are forgiving. They will recognize it if you redeem yourself by giving a strong response to the next question.
  8. Act like a guest. I’ve witnessed candidates come into the room and move their table and chair to be closer to the panel. I’ve encountered several candidates who became insistent about setting up a PowerPoint presentation, even after they were told not to do so. Most commonly, there are candidates who drone on and on, despite being told, “Thank you. Now, let’s go on to the next question.” You’re not throwing the party. Act like a guest.
  9. Be respectful. No matter how disrespected or provoked you might feel, always remain respectful. As a candidate, I have sat out in a waiting room for up to an hour and a half. I have been asked to do a writing sample, even though I’ve been published dozens of times and written a doctoral dissertation. A questioner has even criticized my current employer. Through it all, hold your tongue, smile, and be polite. Don’t be combative.
  10. Leave your baggage home. Question: “What do you expect from us in order for you to be successful?” The best response would be to say, “I work best as a member of a mutually supportive team.” Unfortunately, I’ve actually had candidates say, “My last boss was verbally abusive, I could not work under those conditions.” Another response was, “I need to have flexibility. As a parent, I must be home by 4:30, and, by the way, I can’t attend evening functions.” Don’t put up obstacles, and don’t present yourself as someone who may be difficult to deal with.

The best advice that anyone can give you is to just be yourself, let them know who you are and what you stand for, speak from the heart, be professional, and be appropriate.

Dr. Aronstein provides one-on-one coaching which prepares you for interviews, and helps you prepare your resume. Find out more– www. larryaronstein.com or email: larryaronstein@yahoo.com