Many young people are graduating and starting their job search this month. This article from a few years ago is still relevant.
The moment you walk in the door for your job interview, you’ve made an impression. Make sure it’s a good one. A job interview is a performance, just as if you were on stage. Here are some stage presence techniques that you can apply to your next interview.
Your posture says volumes about what kind of person you are. A slouched, sunken-chest, round shouldered posture does not project the energy of a person ready and willing to do a good job. If you walk in the door with your head high, your chest lifted and your shoulders down and relaxed, you project an image of self-confidence and energy.
Good performers pay close attention to their costume, and so should you. When applying for a job, arrive at the interview dressed as if you already worked there. Be neat and clean, with your hair secured off your face. Understate jewellery – no distracting, dangly earrings. If you can wear something colorful near your face – a tie or a blouse – it will draw attention to your eyes. Dress according to what is appropriate to the situation and the image you want to portray.
Chances are, when you greet your interviewer, the two of you will shake hands. The point of a handshake is contact, so don’t offer someone the ends of your fingers. Let your palm connect with the other person’s palm, with your fingers curled around the bottom of their hand. For both men and women, use firm pressure (no dead fish, please) but not too much. Be considerate of the other person. If a woman is wearing a ring on her right hand, a finger-crushing grip can be extremely painful. Hardly the first impression you want to make!
Make eye contact when you shake hands and when you speak. People in western cultures expect eye contact from a speaker and are uncomfortable when it’s absent. It’s especially important to make eye contact when you say something good about yourself. Eye contact says you’re telling the truth, and it speaks of self-confidence. Everyone has an emotional need to feel seen and acknowledged, even employers and interviewers. If you make eye contact, you’re fulfilling the other person’s need, and he or she will be more comfortable with you.
Speak with a firm tone and good diction. Make sure you remember to breathe, because your voice won’t come out firmly without enough air behind it. Articulate clearly. Use the muscles of your lips and tongue energetically to form clear, distinct consonants. Lazy speaking forces the listener to work harder to understand what’s being said. The speaker should be doing the work to make sure he or she can be easily understood.
Walk in with a smile. Shake hands with a smile. Where appropriate, speak with a smile. A smile makes you feel more relaxed and it helps to break down the barriers between yourself and the people you talk to. Human beings seem to be hard-wired to respond favorably to those who smile at them.
It can be difficult to smile when you’re nervous, but remember two things:
1) Your potential employer is interviewing you, but on the other hand, you are interviewing him or her. Both of you have the task of finding out if you’re a good fit for each other. You aren’t walking in with your hat in your hand, begging for a job. You are a worthy, valuable person wanting to see if this is the right place to offer your talents. With that in mind, you can afford to be friendly and smiling.
2) An audience only knows what you show them. No matter how many butterflies are flying around in your stomach, good stage presence makes a good impression. Show your interviewer upright, energetic posture, appropriate attire, a firm handshake, clear speech and smiling eye contact, and he or she will see good energy and self-confidence.
Above all, be authentic, be yourself. Stage presence skills are not an overlay to hide your real self. Rather, they are techniques to help reveal the beautiful person you are. If the job interview were a piece of jewellery, the presentation skills are the setting, but the jewel is you.