If certain techniques for acing job interviews are so well-known that you use them almost automatically, the things that you don’t realize you’re doing can cost you that dream job at the final hurdle. Identifying and neutralizing potential errors before the big day can make all the difference if you’re up against strong competition. Your good qualifications count for little if you’re going to treat your interview as a trial, a sparring match, or an over-familiar chat.
New research from CareerBuilder has revealed some of the shocking slip-ups that candidates have made while under scrutiny from potential bosses. Even if you’re a talented medium, grabbing the interviewer’s hand and forcing a palm-reading upon them is probably not a good idea – it certainly cost one recent interviewee the job! Another sang all her answers to the panel’s question; and what about the candidate that applied lotion to her feet while being questioned? Presumably, it made the defeated walk home a little less painful.
But if these are – one hopes – isolated cases, far more mundane slip-ups are causing much big numbers of people to fail. Over two thirds of the 2,600 hiring and HR managers surveyed said that catching a candidate lying about something is an instant disqualifier; the same number report that a candidate who answers a phone call or text message during an interview will progress no further.
Okay, so most of us agree that those behaviors are a pretty bad idea. But what about the signals that you don’t notice you’re sending? Take your handshake, for example: 22% of employers reckon a weak handshake is one of the worst body language errors a candidate can make. But over-compensate, and you could be equally doomed: another 9% find an overly strong handshake off-putting. If you want to give a good impression in those first moments, try to make sure your handshake is firm, you keep eye contact with the recipient, and you shake three times. Practice with a friend before the big day: hopefully your buddy can help you calibrate the perfect grip.
Make it intentional
Folded arms are another no-no. Most of the time, you probably don’t realize you’re doing it. Maybe you’re cold, nervous or self-conscious – but body language experts agree the message it sends is usually the same: that you are insecure or defensive. And indeed, crossing your arms can make you so. So while folding your arms is not quite the same thing as applying foot lotion, it’s worth making a mental note to establish a confident posture as soon as you find your seat. Keep your hands on your lap or leg. If unfolding your arms makes you prone to wild hand gestures, then clasp your hands together where they’re resting. Don’t stay too stiff – but make sure any gestures you use are meaningful.
First impressions count
Around half of all employers say they know whether a candidate is a good fit for the role within the first five minutes of an interview. When you consider that the application that got you this far has already demonstrated your level of experience and qualifications, it really means that your personality and your body language are key to the interview process. By this stage, you’ve got it all to lose, so make sure you put in some proper practice ahead of time if you want to progress any further.
A new infographic from OnStride gather seven of the biggest body language mistakes into one place, explains the problem with them, and offers achievable methods to fix them before you turn up to your interview. Figure it out in advance, and hopefully you will avoid becoming just another human resources statistic.