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Dressing up and Body Language for Job Interviews
by: Lieutenant Colonel Anil Kumar Nigam
Dressing up and body language while facing the interview

To make a good impression dress conservative and clean cut, wear clothes appropriate to the culture, keep jewellery to a minimum, no after-shave or perfume, clean shoes, suits dry-cleaned if worn, overall cleanliness, hands, nails etc. Practice good hygiene, comb or brush your hair, and dress appropriately. Even if you know that the company dress is business-casual, dress up anyway. It shows professionalism and respect.

Dress conservatively and avoid bright, flashy colors. Navy blue or gray is usually best but wear colors in which you feel confident. Interviewers might be offended by strong body smell. Don't wear strong perfume. Fragrance is a matter of personal preference and your interviewer might not like your choice. It's best to have soft perfume a few minutes before the interview; a little mouthwash may be good.

Body Language

Remember body speaks louder than words. Body language comprises 55% of the force of any response. Verbal content only provides 7% paralanguage, or the intonation, pauses and sighs given when answering, represents 38% of the emphasis.

How to Act During Interviews

Greet them as per time of day. Smile and have a firm handshake if offered. Read the mood. If the interviewer is formal, then you probably should be, too. If the interviewer is casual, then follow along while remaining courteous and professional. Wait to be told to take a seat and say thank you.
If it's possible, scoot your chair a little closer to the interviewer's desk or take the chair closet to the desk. This shows interest and confidence. But don't invade the interviewer's personal space, a perimeter of about two to three feet is ok. Sit with good posture.
Even formally trained interviewers are regular people like you, so they'll expect you to be a little nervous while sitting in the hot seat. Still, try to avoid obvious signs.
Maintain comfortable eye contact with the interviewer as failure to maintain eye contact indicates that you are lying, reaching for answers or lacking confidence. Take your time to answer questions - this will prevent you from providing a poor answer. Speak clearly and thoughtfully - be sure to speak at an appropriate volume and do not speak too quickly
If the interviewer offers coffee or other beverages, it's okay to accept if he insists otherwise say no thanks. It's probably better to say no thanks to snacks.

How to Sit at Interview

With the upper limbs the guideline is that the less a person moves their hands and arms, the more powerful they are. This supports the view that they are used to people listening to them and they therefore do not have to resort to gesticulation to get their point across.
Try to keep your hands lower than your elbows, rest them on the arms of the chair.
Try to gauge interviewers' preferred distance by their seating arrangements. Move closer only if they seem skeptical about what you're saying.

Where you sit, too, is as important as how you sit.

If you are sitting on the edge of the seat it can make you look eager but also scared, like you are ready to bolt out of the room. Go ahead and slide to the back of the chair and sit tall and straight. That will make you look confident and comfortable.
Girls should not cross their legs and instead sit with their knees together. Men should avoid sitting with their legs too wide apart.
Anything that creates an intimacy before there's a rapport established will signal to the interviewer that you don't use good judgment and that you resort to inappropriate behavior.

Here are some typical interpretations of body language.

Openness and Warmth:Open-lipped smiling, Open hands with palms visible.

Confidence: Leaning forward in chair chin up, Hands joined behind back when standing.

Nervousness: Jiggling pocket contents, running tongue along front of teeth, clearing throat, hands touching the face or covering part of the face, pulling at skin or ear, running fingers through hair, wringing hands, biting on pens or other objects, twiddling thumbs, biting fingernails. Looking at your watch very frequently. Nervous hand habits, like nail biting, hair twirling and hand twitching, can distract the interviewer and, convey nervousness and insecurity.

Untrustworthy/Defensive: Frowning, squinting eyes, tight-lipped grin, arms crossed in front of chest, chin down, touching nose or face, darting eyes, looking down when speaking, clenched hands, gestures with fist, pointing with fingers, chopping one hand into the open palm of the other, rubbing back of neck, clasping hands behind head while leaning back in the chair.

Interpretation of Various Postures
Crossed arms - means that the person is in a defensive and reserved mood.
- Crossed arms and legs - means that the person feels very reserved and suspicious.
- Open arms and hands - means that the person is open and receptive.
- Standing before you with his hands inside the pockets - means he is not sure or feels suspicious.
- Standing before you with his hands on his hips - means he is receptive and ready to help you out.
- Sitting in a chair shaking one of the legs - means he feels nervous and uncomfortable
- If his eyes are downcast and face turned away - means he is not interested in what you are saying.
- With the palm of the hand holding or stroking his chin - means he is in an evaluating position and being critical.
- Leaning back in his chair with both hands clasped behind his head - means he is in an analytical mood, but it is also a gesture of superiority.
- Rubbing or touching his nose when answering a question - means he is not telling the complete truth.
- Rubbing the back of his head or rubbing or touching the back of his neck - means the conversation is not really interesting.
- If he moves his body and sits with his feet and body pointing towards a door - means he wants to end the conservation and leave the room.
- Steepling your fingers, particularly in an upright position, when answering a question. This can be perceived as arrogant, saying I know more about this subject than you do.

Tips about using your Voice

Add Volume to Increase Authority. Remember that your voice always sounds louder to you than to anyone else. Also remember that your voice is an instrument; it needs to be warmed up, or it will creak and crack at the beginning of your presentation. If you warm up with a high volume, as though projecting to those in the back row, your volume also will improve your vocal quality. Volume adds energy to your voice; it has the power to command or lose listeners' attention.

Lower the Pitch to Increase Credibility. Pitch, the measurement of the "highness" or "lowness" of your voice, is determined largely by the amount of tension in the vocal cords. When you are under stress, you may sound high-pitched; when you are relaxed and confident, you will have a naturally lower pitch. Authoritative vocal tones are low and calm, not high and tense. Remember that a lower pitch conveys power, authority, and confidence, whereas a high pitch conveys insecurity and nervousness.

Tune your body posture

Try to adopt a posture that shows interest but still comes across as being relaxed. You can do this by sitting up straight in your chair at the beginning of the interview, with your back against the back of the chair. If you slouch or hang sideways in your chair, it might give the impression that you are not that interested in the job. However, sitting on the edge of your chair can come across as being a little tense and might give the impression that you feel uncomfortable. You can change your body posture a little during the interview. For example, when someone says something it is good to turn a little with your shoulders towards this person and to lean forward a little. This shows an interest in what the other person is saying. You can emphasize this by tilting your head a little. It is also important to pay attention to the posture of your interview partners. In some cases you can achieve mutual tuning by adopting the same posture as the other person.

What to do with your hands?

Just the same as when you are giving a presentation, many people often regard their hands as obstacles during a job interview rather than a useful means of communication. That is why people often ask what to do with their hands. In a difficult situation we are often inclined to fold our arms across our body. This helps to give us a more secure feeling. During a job interview it is better not to do this, because folding your arms can be interpreted as a defensive move. It is better to let your hands lie loosely on your lap or place them on the armrests of your chair. From these positions it's also easy to support your words with hand gestures.

Movements: a dynamic interview?

Facial expressions play a great role; do not have a blank face. Hand movements can also help to liven up the interview. The fact that you dare to make movements with your hands during an interview might indicate that you feel at ease quickly. In most cases it is better not to make too many hand movements at the start of the interview but add them slowly throughout the interview. As regards this, pay attention to your interview partners as well: if they use their hands a lot to make things clear, you can definitely do this as well. When they don't make many movements, it is better if you don't either. Just the same as with body posture, it is important to tune your movements to those of the other person. Also pay attention to inadvertent movements that you may make sometimes due to nervousness. For example, shuffling with your feet or kicking against the leg of a table can be very irritating for other people. Drumming with your fingers or clicking with a pen also won't be good for the interview and shows your nervousness.

When should you look at whom?

During the job interview it is important to look at all the interview partners to an equal extent. By looking directly at the other person we are giving them a sign of trust. By looking directly at people we are also in control of the conversation. Looking directly at somebody or looking away actually serves as the dots and commas in our spoken sentences. When one of the committee members explains something or poses a question, keep looking at this person for as long as he or she is speaking. This shows that you're listening. While he is speaking he may also look at the other people, but every time he wants to emphasize something he will look at you again. You can then nod to encourage him to continue talking. At the end of his question, he will keep looking at you and then tilt his head up a little to invite you to give an answer. When you answer a question, you will look first at the person who posed the question, but while you answer you should take turns looking at the other interview partners as well. You should direct yourself again to the person who posed the question when you want to emphasize something and at the end of your answer.

Mirror the Interviewer's Body Language.

The concept of mirroring is based on the well-known human trait of like attracting like. People generally like people that appear to be similar to them. Therefore, by observing the interviewers body language and reflecting this back at them they are likely to feel more at ease and friendly towards you.

Some practical hints

- Develop your Listening skills and do not ask could you please repeat the question.
- Maintain comfortable eye contact.
- Do not interrupt the interviewer.
- From time to time, ask for clarification of what has been said if you are not clear about it.
- Don't show emotions or prejudices on any contentious topic.
- Occasionally, re-phrase what has been said to show you have clearly understood the question before attempting to answer.
- Keep an open mind on what is being said until the interviewer has finished.

Most Likely Questions likely to be asked by interviewers

.Where did you come in your class in College?
- Why didn't you do better in your exams?
- Tell me about yourself?
- How would you describe yourself?
- Why do you want to leave your present job?
- What would your boss/colleagues say about you if asked?
- What motivates you most?
- What is your long term plans?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
- What is your greatest strength?
- Do you prefer working alone or with others?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- How do you cope with pressure?
- Give me an instance where you were under pressure?
- Why do you believe you are a suitable candidate for this job?
- What can you do for us that somebody else can't do?

The Secrets of Interview Success

- Express yourself with clarity and precision.
- Speak confidently, making sure to support your answers with relevant examples from your work
- Always relate your answers to the job for which you are applying.
- Always present a positive face
- You should state and supply evidence that you enjoy your job; that you are enthusiastic and ambitious; and that you welcome challenge.
- It is important to tell the truth in interviews.
- Convince them that your experience qualifies you for the job on offer.

Do you have any questions? What to do when they put such a question to you?

Do ask only after they confirm your suitability and give you a chance. Here are some examples of questions to ask at your job interview.
- How would you describe a typical workday?
- What is the best part of working at this company for you?
- What are the typical responsibilities and duties of this job?
- What skills are considered most useful for success in this job?
- How many people work in this particular department?
- What areas of the department do you think need improving?
- What is your company's corporate culture?
- What are the company's values?
- What is the company's policy on transfers to other divisions or other offices?

Don't ask about.

Don't ask about company benefits at this stage.

About the Author

Author has 28 years of experience in the field of Teaching and Management. He is M. Tech from IIT Kanpur and has worked in different capacities including Signal corps Indian Army, Regional Manager for a Telecom Company. Currently he is Associate Professor with ITM, Gurgaon that is rated as best Engineering colleges of North India.

 



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