Interviews. They can be nerve-wracking. We’ve all known that feeling of desperately wanting to make the best possible impression when in the room, faced with our interviewer(s). In the second of this three-part post, our vocal and communications coach Susan Heaton Wright shares some tips on physical presence for maximum impact from the moment you walk through that door right through to your exit .
Interviews take on a number of formats: sometimes there is a committee of interviewers firing questions; for others there could be one or two interviewers and it is a more relaxed approach. However, for all interviews, it is important to engage the interviewers both physically and with your answers.
- Make sure you have eye contact when questions are being asked.
- Watch how you sit: arms folded and legs crossed are defensive body positions. You will be giving negative subtle messages to your interviewers. A good positive sitting position is to have your feet firmly on the ground; an open chest/shoulders and a relaxed jaw. Hands by your side.
- When answering a question, have eye contact with the questioner, then try to engage the other interviewers by looking at them. It is perfectly natural for your eyes to go up, or side to side, when remembering key facts, however, avoid dropping your head forward as this is very weak.
- Gesturing is okay – up to a point. If you start waving your hands around like an Italian traffic policeman, it could be distracting. If you watch politicians when they deliver speeches (or are interviewed), they will use their hands to emphasise particular words or points, which is very effective.
- Try to mirror the posture of the interviewer delivering a question. Move your body so it faces the interviewer.
- When you are being asked a question maintain eye contact and if necessary nod your head once to show you are listening to the question. This will develop a rapport with the interviewer.
- Speak clearly and slowly. Ladies in particular need to be aware of the pitch of their voices – particularly when stressed. Try to maintain a relaxed tone which won’t ‘worry’ the interviewers.
- Take your time answering questions. To give yourself more time, repeat the question, which will enable you to think of appropriate responses. Always remain calm and confident. Avoid being flustered or angry by a question: the interviewers could be testing your ability to work under pressure. If necessary ask them to repeat the question.
At the end of the interview, thank all of the interviewers, look them in the eye and shake hands again. Listen to directions of where to go – to avoid walking into a broom cupboard. Believe me, it has happened!
© Susan Heaton Wright 2012
Susan Heaton Wright helps successful individuals to make an impact with their voices and physical presence. Using her experience and expertise as a high quality performer and vocal expert, she has devised a range of techniques and exercises within training programmes to coach her clients to successfully communicate. She can be found at executivevoice.co.uk.