It can feel like you’re being interrogated- your sat on a chair in front of one, or a row of people, who will give you question after question, judge your answers and make little notes while you talk. It’s a universal fact of life- nobody enjoys a job interview. But of course, you can never admit it. All the advice about job interviews is the same. You should relax, enjoy yourself, be confident. Well, obviously a lot of the time you’ll be feeling the exact opposite of that. In that case, if you want to get your dream graduate job, you only really have one option- fake it.
So, how do you appear like exactly the sort of confident, self assured person they’ll want to employ? The truth is, it’s less in what you say, then it is in how you say it. Your interviewer is going to be listening to what you say, but they’ll also be listening to your tone of voice, the way you hold yourself, even where you’re looking. Here’s what you can do to give the right impression.
A Good, Strong Hello
You only get one chance to make a first impression, so the way you say hello is going to count for a lot. Let’s assume you’ve read up on the company, practiced interview questions, and are wearing your smartest suit when you go in. That’s a lot of your bases covered. However, you’ll still have to get through those first thirty seconds.
Things to avoid doing when you walk in include readjusting your clothes, fidgeting, avoiding eye contact. Instead, pull yourself together before you go in, walk right into the room, offer a strong handshake, but don’t try to crush their fingers, it’s not a competition. Make eye contact as you say hello.
If In Doubt, Sit Still
A few things that will clue your interviewer into the fact that you’re nervous include drumming your fingers, scratching yourself, shaking your foot, rocking back and forth in your chair. Of course, the moment you know you have to sit absolutely still, every part of your body is going to scream out with itches and tickles. You’ll want to rub the back of your neck, scratch your nose, crack your knuckles, the works. Resist!
Assume the Position
The position you choose to sit in is going to give off all sorts of signals. If you cross your arms across your chest it will look defensive and unfriendly. If you cross your legs you create the temptation to constantly re-cross them, or shake your fit in mid air. This gives away how uncomfortable you are. If you slouch back in your seat you’ll look less like the companies next top recruit, and more like a school kid who’s been sent to see the head master.
Instead, sit up straight, leaning only slightly forward. This will help you project an air of interest and engagement, as opposed to leaning towards the door, which makes you look like you’re going to leg it the first chance you get.
Pull the Right Face
Nothing alienates an interviewer like a blank stare. Instead, keep an interested expression, nodding and smiling just enough to not look like one of those dogs people keep on their dashboard. If you’re being interviewed by more than one person, keep shifting your gaze between them, talking to each interviewer in turn.
Respect Their Personal Space
Find a comfortable distance from the interviewers and stick to it, any closer than about 20 inches and your interviewer will start to feel uncomfortable. You want your interviewer thinking about your intelligent, well thought out answers to their questions, not the cheese and onion sandwich you ate before you came out.
Make A Graceful Exit
By now you should have won your interviewers over with your charm, charisma and knowledge of the company, now you just need to make it to the exit without any casualties. As you leave, make sure your farewell handshake matches your greeting for warmth and confidence. Leave with your back straight and your eyes in front. Keep that walk going as you leave the office, head down the stairs and out onto the street. Once you’re around the corner, or back in your car, you can finally let your legs turn to jelly and you shoulders slump. Or alternatively, break into the victory dance routine you’ve been preparing.
Body Language Matters Even If They Can’t See You
It’s possible the company might ask you for a telephone interview. However, just because they can’t see you doesn’t mean you should do the interview slouched on the sofa or curled up in bed. Take the telephone interview standing up, and keep smiling throughout the phone call, you’d be surprised how much of your physical attitude is reflected in your voice.