How do you respond under stressful conditions (like a job interview)?
Are you "cool, calm and collected?" Or do you fidget, sweat and breathe rapidly?
The nonverbal cues you send tell a hiring manager a lot during an interviewer – as much as, or even more than, what you say. Some studies break communication down this way:
- 55% body language
- 38% intonation
- 7% verbal
Employers rely on your nonverbal communication heavily to gauge your confidence, intelligence and power. So, it's important to be aware of, and in control of, the cues you send. Today, PrideStaff shares five simple tips for conveying the right messages to a potential employer – without ever saying a word:
Prepare to relax. It's natural to be nervous when heading into an interview; but that nervousness can't show. So proactively prepare to relax. Realize that your anxiety will likely peak as the interview begins, and then create a plan to get yourself into a calm state of mind for the interview's start. Review your resume, rehearse your "30-second sales pitch," and remember, you've been asked to interview because you're a viable candidate – have confidence in your abilities!
Create a great first impression.
- Check your appearance before you head into the building, so you're not fiddling with your hair or outfit once you arrive.
- Arrange your possessions neatly, so that you won't drop anything and will have a hand free to shake. Make sure your resume, pen and notepad are easily accessible, so you won't have to rifle through your portfolio or briefcase in front of the interviewer.
- Stand up, greet your interviewer with a smile and give him a firm (not crushing) handshake.
Watch your posture. If you tend to slouch, slump or fold your arms, be aware of the negative signals these nonverbal behaviors send. To avoid appearing bored or aloof, sit upright or lean in slightly with a straight back. If you tend to gesture with your hands, make sure you keep them within the frame of your body – anything more can be distracting.
Control nervous habits. Nail biting, leg bouncing, hair twirling…most of us have at least one nervous tic. They're comforting, but counterproductive in an interview. When you feel your nerves creeping in, keep yourself "in the moment." Control your breathing, listen to what the interviewer is saying and focus on answering the question at hand. If necessary, practice controlling your nervous habits by simulating an interview situation with a trusted friend.
Maintain appropriate eye contact. Staring at the floor or ceiling – or staring intently at your interviewer – are both interview "don'ts." Too little eye contact conveys disinterest; too much conveys aggression. Relax your gaze and make natural eye contact with the interviewer to keep things comfortable.
Mirror the interviewer's body language. If you're still feeling uncomfortable, try the mirroring technique. Make small, subtle adjustments to your own orientation, posture and hand positions that reflect the interviewer's own body language. Lean out when he leans out; cross your legs after he crosses his.
Be careful not to completely copy him move-for-move though, or mimic any unprofessional gestures he may make. Use your common sense and stick to best practices for sending the right nonverbal cues.
Need more interview assistance?
First, read this earlier post on avoiding the pre-interview waiting room jitters.
Then, register with PrideStaff. When you come in, you'll interview with an employment expert in a low-stress environment. You can practice your interview skills and get pointers on how to improve your performance.
We know that looking for work can be stressful, and we're here to ensure that you don't just search, but succeed. Contact the PrideStaff office in your area to find out more about great local job opportunities.