Thursday, January 10, 2013

Job Interview Body Language - The 7 Most Essential Skills

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In these current economic conditions, opportunities to secure a new job are becoming more difficult. Having a great resume and pertinent past experience is important, but is not enough. You are just one of several other candidates who meet the specific requirements for that position. You need to gain an advantage by executing the perfect job interview. Here are the seven most essential skills you need to perform, to complete the ideal job interview.

1. Your Appearance
Making a good first impression is critical. Studies have shown that people can make up their minds, about the type of person you are, in as little as seven seconds. With such a small window of opportunity, every moment counts. Start by making sure you are well groomed. It's important that your hair is cut and styled appropriately for the business setting. Your hands are always visible, so make sure your fingernails are clean, trimmed and/or polished. Tattoos and excessive piercings, while popular, are still controversial in a business environment. Remove any excessive piercings and consider covering your tattoos with either clothing or make-up.

Clothes should be properly tailored. For men a nicely tailored suit will accentuate wide shoulders and a tapered waist. Women should avoid wearing a skirt that is too short or anything that is too tight. Buttons should not look ready to pop. Wear clothing that defines your waistline; loose or shapeless garments will not produce a flattering look.

2. Posture
Good posture reflects many positive attributes and makes you look taller. Studies show, in the business world, that taller people usually have an advantage. It will also make you appear more confident. A confident look portrays intelligence and likability.

To check your posture, stand in front of a mirror. Place your back up against a wall and make sure your shoulders, butt and heels are touching the wall. Look into the mirror. This is how you look with great posture. Now close your eyes and step away from the wall. Take note how you feel, this will help ingrain this position into your memory. Practice this daily until it becomes second nature.

3. Smile
Smiles are contagious. When you smile, you are judged to be more sincere, sociable and competent. However, smiles need to be genuine. Most people can easily identify a fake smile, because it does not create the same positive emotions. A fake smile uses only the muscles around the mouth. Good examples of a fake smile can usually be found in your family photo albums. A forced smile, such as when you are asked to say cheese for a photograph, does not use the entire face. Genuine smiles show throughout your entire face. The crow's feet around your eyes will begin to show, your cheeks will rise slightly and your teeth will be fully visible.

Practice holding a sheet of paper just under your eyes as you look into a mirror. The paper should cover both your nose and mouth, now smile. Continue working on your smile until you can identify, by only looking at your eyes, that you are indeed smiling. Models and actors do this all the time. It is a skill you can easily improve.

4. Eye Contact
Good eye contact is essential, but you can overdo it. Constantly peering or staring into someone's eyes, will begin to make them feel uncomfortable. You need to create a balance. Strive to maintain eye contact about 80% of the time. It is O.K. to look away slightly, as you think of an answer to a question or another good method is to rotate your eyes around the person's face. Instead of staring at one point, move your look around from eye to eye and the mouth of the interviewer. This is known as a business or social eye rotation and is highly recommended for the business environment.

5. Mirroring
Have you ever met a stranger at a party or social gathering and immediately had an instant rapport? Seems like you've been friends for years. Sometimes this is due to common interests, but a bigger influence is that both of you will use similar body positions or gestures. Example: if you're standing with one arm resting on the back of a chair with your feet crossed, you'll find the other person in a reflective pose with their arms and legs in the same position. Only they will use the opposite arm and leg, like you are looking into a mirror and seeing a reflection of yourself. In most cases, we like people who are just like us, your subconscious see what looks to be a reflection of ourselves and an instant rapport begins to build without us even understanding why. Many successful salespersons use this "mirroring" technique to their advantage to create a comfort level and trust with their clients.

Mirroring your interviewer can create this same bond and help give you an advantage. As your interview progresses, simply begin to move your body to reflect the same position as your interviewer. If your interviewer moves into a different position you do the same, but be careful not to move immediately or too obviously. You don't want to come across as mocking or disrespectful. Take your time, move a different part of your body, one posture at a time, until you come into a reflective position.

6. Know Yourself
This seems to be pretty obvious, but people make mistakes all the time because they haven't taken the time to become familiar with their own resume. Your interviewer will have already looked over your resume and will use it to formulate questions. Being caught off guard with a question about your past work experience, does not look good. It can hurt your confidence and may give the impression that the information you are providing is false. Make sure you review all the information on your resume and have a good understanding of the image you want to present. Anticipate which questions can be gleaned from your past record and have answers at the ready.

7. Treat Everybody as a Decision Maker
You are being evaluated right from the beginning. Everybody you speak with, either on the phone or in person may have an input on whether you would be a good choice for that position. Never assume someone doesn't have an input or isn't important. I know of a situation in which one person lost an offer simply because they were rude to the receptionist. This person had all the qualifications and presented well during the job interview process. The company was even about to make an offer, until the human resources representative had lunch with her friend, the receptionist. The conversation didn't bode well for the interviewee and they decided to offer the position to another candidate. Remember to treat everybody as if they are a decision maker and be genuine about it.

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