It’s more than what you say.
Giving all the right answers in an interview is only one element of how you’ll be evaluated. Even before you sit down for a discussion, your interviewer likely has formed his or her opinion of you. Presenting a positive impression from the first to the last moment of the interview is the key to landing the job you want. There are several things you can do to project the right image without saying a word.
Appearance. Your outward appearance is the first clue a prospective employer has to your overall persona. If you are unsure of the dress standards at a company, it’s best to go conservative. A dark suit is a safe bet for both men and women. Keep jewelry and distracting accessories to a minimum. Don’t carry too much with you because you’ll look sloppy. Bring only a neat binder holding a note pad and a clean copy of your resume.
Before the interview. You never know who might be watching, so remember that your interview starts when you arrive in the parking lot. Don’t fix your hair or makeup in the car, or sit in the car to kill time if you’re early. It’s also advisable to make a trial run to the office a day or two before your interview so that you’re familiar with parking and other intricacies of the property that could cause you to be late for your meeting.
Meeting and greeting. Introduce yourself to the receptionist clearly, especially if you have a difficult name. Either sit or stand in the lobby, but don’t pace. Make eye contact with and smile to all who pass you so that you appear friendly and approachable. When your contact comes out, greet him or her with a firm handshake and energetic smile.
Small talk. Become familiar with buzz words in your industry. Stay current with news so that you can respond intelligently if the interviewer asks your opinion about a specific topic.
Body language. Keep good eye contact at all times to show that you are honest and interested. Smile during the interview to calm your nerves and show enthusiasm. Sit forward in your chair and maintain good posture; poor posture comes across as a lack of energy. It’s acceptable to “talk with your hands,” but movements should be natural and focused in front of your body. Keep your feet planted on the ground or crossed at the ankles.
Closing the interview. Be alert for hints from your interviewer that the meeting is coming to a close. Some interviewers give obvious clues such as standing or thanking you for coming while others may seem to get distracted. It is important to end the interview just as you began it, with energy, a handshake and a smile.
Practice these physical elements of the situation so that you appear natural, confident and in control. You’ll encounter enough stress responding to questions; don’t let an unpolished image destroy your chances before you open your mouth.
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