The Job Interview: Words and body language

Susan Frankel
A job interview starts the moment you enter the room. If you have applied for a job and an employer is impressed by what your resume says about you, a person responsible for hiring for the firm will want to meet you. Someone there already has a good feeling about you and now wants you to convince them that you are the person with the skills and qualities to match the job advertised.
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Susan Frankel on 29/08/2013
Person with folded arms wearing a blue business shirt and tie

In a job interview, your body language can be just as important as your choice of words.

When we feel confident, we feel competent. So when we've put in a resume and it's successful we'll get an opportunity to take the next step. There will be the invitation to come in for a chat. At the end of the interview, the employer will either be convinced you are suitable or unsuitable for the job. Some firms invite candidates for a second interview, especially when there is more than one person who appears suitable for the job. It is not just about answering questions well. It's also about whether or not your personality and style will be a good fit with the organisation.

An interview first starts with a greeting. Show your confidence, shake hands if a hand is offered and smile. Tim, (not his real name) a job search skills trainer used by Centrelink who helps long term unemployed seeking training and guidance on presentation and interview skills, has some helpful advice for when you enter the interview room. When introduced to the interviewer and you shake hands, repeat the name of the interviewer. This will make sure you are saying it correctly. 

Your mood comes with you

Says Tim, When you respond to a question from an interviewer, answer the question and make mention of their name. He says if you add the interviewer's name from time to time in with your answers, it will make the interviewer feel you are really talking to them.

When you enter the interview room, your mood comes with you. If you are coming from a similar job, you are going to carry that feeling in the interview. It's a confidence. You must check that you are carrying that confidence into the interview. If the job is somewhat different, you must still check that you give out confidence, says Tim, adding that bosses want employees who are positive about their work and other people, customers and work mates.

Relax. It's a chat

He says good communication doesn't just happen. We need to speak with clarity and confidence in the interview. In this case, a job interview is where clarity and motivation is crucial to outlining your skills and experience.

Tim says to pay attention to your body language and to make eye contact with interviewer. Many people do things at an interview which are non verbal that they would not normally do, for example sit on hands, fidget, squeeze knees. That shows you are uncomfortable.

Tim says the same rules for interviews apply for people with disabilities. Stay relaxed. Always remind yourself you are going in for a chat. It's about you, but you also want to find out as much information as possible about them, and their organisation - so it's a two way thing. This is a two way communication.

Positive words

Tim advises to always use positive words to convey who you are in an interview. Candidates may be asked about future ambitions. You could be called upon to discuss how you would feel about new challenges or to tell them about previous challenges you were comfortable with. If the job requires someone who likes a challenge, you might want to say you are looking for greater challenges if that is what you want and if the job description asks for it. If it's a new environment but a similar job, you could say a new environment is enough stimulation for the moment. Employees have to expect that a firm may, at some stage, introduce new processes down the track.

At the end of the interview, finish off with a handshake, smile, and thank the interviewer/s whilst including their names in the thank you. Well done! You're one step further to getting the job you want.

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