How To Get Your Dream Job:
The secret language for a successful interview
Your colleague got that promotion and you didn’t! Your interview seemed to go well and frankly your technical skills and experience are vastly better than hers. What went wrong?
Actually nothing went wrong, but the successful candidate may have displayed certain critical nonverbal cues that endeared her to the interviewer: powerful cues that even beat out the superior technical skills of the other candidates.
Within seconds of alighting our gaze on our fellow humans we make profound judgments as to their character, personality, attitude and capabilities; after five seconds we could take a stab at writing their biography.
As unfair as it seems, the interview is one of those occasions when first impressions really do matter. Human Resource managers have admitted to me that if the first impression doesn’t match the candidate’s brilliant resume, they are less likely to make the effort to find out if that person is a fit for the company. Unfortunately, the interviewer is not immune to the halo effect 1*, when a positive or negative first impression colors what he thinks of a candidate’s performance in other areas. Apparently, we all believe what we see and make judgments based on visual impact. Studies assure us that we hire people we like, confident people and those we consider will fit in. In other words likeable people speak a secret language that the rest of us might be wise to learn.
Likeability is often conveyed by subtle nonverbal clues. For example several early studies 2* indicate a correlation between direct eye contact (in the western world) and the perception of alertness and intelligence, assertiveness and dependability, confidence and responsibility. Appropriate body orientation, composed body posture and head movements such as nodding are also deemed as positive traits. A genuine smile seems to be the principle indicator of warmth and likeability. So if you are nervous, remember to smile while speaking directly to the interviewer, move your head naturally and nod occasionally while listening.
Style of speech and use of vocabulary also play a critical role in perceptions. As studies have indicated, fluency or flowing speech without too many pauses, “ums” and “ers”, a strong not strident voice, clear and articulate phrasing and appropriate verbal content are indicative of intelligence and confidence. Thorough verbal preparation of your examples such as success stories and results is key, just in case your brain is corrupted by malicious spirits and you can’t invent anything scintillating in the moment. Think of it as a performance, but make it natural.
If an interview or similar nerve wracking event is in your future and you don’t feel you have brilliant soft skills 3*, fortunately help is at hand. London Image Institute image consultants work with clients not only to look younger, up to date and more attractive all of which are important in the interview, 4* but also on the body language to communicate how flexible, intelligent, responsible and easy-going you are. Most motivated people can learn these simple techniques and other positive personal and professional messages to upgrade their performance in the dimensions of both likeability and credibility. If you want to gain the next promotion or make the second interview, learn the secret language of success.
TIPS TO FINE-TUNE YOUR PRESENTATION AND STRENGTHEN
- Immaculate grooming
- Appropriate colors to match your natural harmonies
- Appropriate level of dress to the organizational culture and the interview position
- Updated dress style, hairstyle and makeup
Confident Body Language:
- Direct eye contact
- A warm smile which hits the eyes
- Upright and balanced body posture
- Flexible head movements and gestures
- Composed and calm body movements
- Fluent speech patterns
- Articulate delivery
- Strong voice level
- Low to medium pitch
1* The Halo Effect: Evidence for the unconscious alteration of judgments. Nisbett and Wilson. 1977.
2* 1970’s-1980’s. Many studies in body language and the interview indicating the perception of eye contact, smiling, head movements; body orientation, appearance, fluent speech, appropriate verbal content and energy level.
Tessler and Sushelsky; Young and Beier; McGovern and Tinsley; Hollandsworth and Kazelskis, Stevens and Dressel; Amalfitano and Kalt; Imada and Hakel.
3* The importance of soft skills: Education beyond academic knowledge. Schultz and Bernd, 2008.
4*The Beauty Bias. Deborah L Rhode 2010.