Many of you may be gearing up for the last leg of your educational journey. You will soon begin the long process of finding a job. Some may be lucky enough to get placed through campus interviews — fast becoming a favoured way of head-hunters — and there will be others who have to hunt in the open job market.
Whichever category you belong to, there is one thing that you will have to undergo before you get hired. That one crucial factor is a job interview.
Some recruiters prefer to conduct a written test with those who clear it entering the next stage called PI or the personal interview, where experienced professionals not only check your knowledge but look more carefully at the whole package — the complete person.
What do you think are the first things they notice?
You will be surprised to know that scrutiny begins as soon as you enter the interviewer’s cabin. A popular adage goes that communication is 7 per cent verbal and 93 per cent non verbal. The moment you step into an interview room, the non-verbal communication begins. And do you know what the biggest contributor to this non verbal conversation is?
It is your posture. You have to ensure that your body language conveys a professional attitude.
Here are a few points to keep in mind to create a good first impression even before any words come out of your mouth:
Walk tall: As you enter the interview room, remember to hold your head high, pull back your shoulders and straighten your spine. You will automatically feel more confident about yourself. This confidence boost will find itself reflected in your conduct and later on in the way you present your answers.
Eye contact: Maintain eye contact while you are being asked a question during the interview. It conveys attentiveness to the interviewer. Looking away while someone is talking to you shows a lack of interest. It also conveys a lack of confidence and may project you as someone who has a short attention span.
Sit straight: DO NOT slouch. Sit straight in the chair. Straighten your backbone. Relax and cross your ankles or plant your feet firmly on the ground to provide a certain stability. Do not under any circumstances rock the chair.
No fidgeting: Please make sure that you do not fidget while you wait to be asked a question. Do not tap your feet, play with your hair or jewellery or chew your nails. Yes, you will be nervous but an interview is neither the place nor time to exhibit it. On the contrary, you need to feel and look composed and confident.
Gestures: Be careful about the gestures you make. Ideally you should avoid making any at all but just in case you get carried away while answering a question close to your heart, remember to limit them lest they look theatrical and artificial. Facial gestures like rolling the eyes, darting glances or simply staring can be damaging. While it is important to maintain eye contact, locking eyes with someone can be seen as aggressive behaviour, hence avoid staring pointedly. Pointing is also perceived as rude.
Hands: they can pose a problem if you haven’t pre-decided what to do with your hands during the interview. If you put them in your pockets or cross your arms across your chest you might be seen as closed to new ideas and/ or inflexible. In an interview you need to be perceived as an open person willing to share, hence it is a good idea to let your hands rest in your lap naturally.
It is a good idea to practise your posture and stance well before appearing for an interview.
Get a friend to help you identify any flaws, tics or personal habits that might go against you in making the right first impression at a job interview.