Laura Decarlo: Hi! I am Lara Decarlo, certified interview coach and president of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, Career Directors International. I am sharing strategies for planning to ace your job interview. Right now, I am going to talk about using powerful verbal and body language to make sure you give the best first impression to the prospective employer.
Employers are seeking professional, experienced and upbeat individuals, who'll fit into their company, be able to work with their existing employees, and meet the needs of their customers. However, employers have very little to go on with just an interview to see if you fit the bill. If you're nervous, shy or unprepared, an employer won't be able to see that you could be a good fit. That is why this preparation you're doing now is so critical.
The first step is to realize that 80% of hiring decisions are based on the fact that the employer likes you and thinks you'll fit into the company. Employers tend to look for high energy, enthusiasm, good eye contact, attentiveness and interest, listening skills, composure, well modulated speech, promptness and professionalism.
Understanding these traits is the first piece to composing yourself for your interview presentation. The second is body language, and the third is word choice. Your word choice and the way you present those words with your body language can make all the difference in the impression you'll make. In other words, it is not just important what you say, but how you say it.
You need to position the answers you provide an employer to reflect positively on you and to sell you for the job. This involves the words you choose, the way in which you say them such as tone, speed and modulation, and the body language or actions ad behaviors behind them. In short, if you use positive words coupled with positive body language, you'll make a positive impression.
For example, if you're asked a question that addresses something you're sensitive about, you must carefully choose words and body language to achieve the appropriate outcome. If you're sensitive because you never earned a college degree and you're suddenly asked if you think not having a degree has been a barrier in your career growth, you might respond halfheartedly if you are not prepared. Your answer might be presented with downcast eyelids, a lower tone of voice, a sideways glance, a nervous giggle or sloped shoulders.
It might sound something like this, well, I know it's important to have a degree and that employers look for one, but it hasn't really seemed to affected me that much and I plan to go to school though.
This answer does not answer the real question and does not market you for the job. It'd be very wise for you to consider your weaknesses, fears and inadequacies before you get anywhere near the interview. These personal skeletons would do the most harm if you're unprepared and will leave you making the same type of weak, unmotivated answer as the one above.
To turn it around, sit up straight, don't miss a beat and don't let them see you sweat. Instead you'd say, no, I never believed that there was a formula that said that having a degree equaled career success. In fact, I've several friends who have advanced degrees and are either underpaid or out of work. Success to me is a matter of dedication and perseverance. Through my last position as VP of American Sales, I've learned from my experience and open-mindedness and business mentors, and I am more than confident that I possess the same skills as someone with the formal business education.
Can you hear the difference? There is one more important element before I share more about body language. This is what I call weasel words. Weasel words are weak words that diminish the strength of your message and of what you're trying to express. Weasel words are phrases such as, I think, I might, maybe and possibly. Instead of weasel words, you want value words such as I can, I will, I know, I have, definitely and yes.
These words will convey confidence in what you have to say and what you have to offer. But you also do not want your body language to undermine what you have to say. If you have a habit of looking off into space, biting your fingernails, crossing your arms across your chest or fidgeting, you can come off as dishonest, disinterested or lacking confidence. These are typically traits you do without knowing it. So filming yourself practicing answering interview questions or having a friend or family member simulate an interview with you and giving you feedback will let you see what you were doing so you can practice to correct it.
The best body language includes having good posture, sitting attentively and even leaning a little forward, maintaining eye contact and appearing open, interested, calm and professional.
Take the time to work on your body language, word choice and attitude when preparing your answers to common questions. If you're positive, dressed appropriately, motivated, interested and tactful, you'll make the impression that'll capture an interviewer's interest. Now that you understand the importance of not just what you say, but how you say it, I'll next share with you a powerful yet easy strategy to make sure you hit a homerun with your interview answers.