83. 6 Unexpected ways on how to nail your next job interview (Executive presence part 2)
6 Unexpected ways on how to nail that job interview (Executive presence part 2)
Are you ready for your next job interview?
Most people would prepare for the interview by practicing answers to questions, and that's, of course, really important. However, researching the possible questions and the proper answers for those questions can be a rabbit hole and surely not the only success factor in helping you nail the interview and get the job.
Many job seekers feel anxious while constantly anticipating the day of the interview. The interview comes and goes in a blur, and although you answered all the questions, you can't help but feel that things didn't go well. But then, you don't hear back for a long time, and because these days it's very hard to get feedback, you don’t know what went wrong.
Could this be you?
Preparing answers for questions is great, but there are other things that you can prepare for, which also affect the outcome of the interview. Unfortunately, many people overlook preparing for these other dimensions of your presentation, which the panel is also assessing.
In this new episode (83) of The Job Hunting Podcast, I share six dimensions you need to prepare to showcase executive presence during a job interview. This is part 2 of the executive presence series and how it can impact your job interview. So make sure to listen to part 1, which is episode 82 of The Job Hunting Podcast.
Here are the 6 unexpected ways on how to nail your next job interview:
1. Small talk
In a job interview situation, there is no such thing as "small talk." Everything you say should be relevant and consistent to present you as the best candidate. This means answering the typical interview questions well and being a likable professional who knows how to connect with their peers. And this is, in fact, well-showcased during small talk conversations whether you like it or not!
During the recruitment and selection process, even before the job interview phase, every engagement matters. The way that you answered a call, how fast you returned a call when someone left you a voicemail, how and when you send your emails are just as important as what is in your resume. It is about showcasing a consistent and professional communication channel at every opportunity. Consistency is the keyword here!
Small talk is part of showing up consistently on-brand with likeability and trust. This way, people who don't know you or don't know you very well may think of you as the best possible candidate for the position they have available.
So, if you're not comfortable with small talk or if you feel like you're not very clever at figuring it out, prepare for it. But, please don’t leave it to chance.
Think about what other people say that resonates with the audience similar to yours. Then, you can be inspired and use them as inspiration, adding your style to them.
When I moved to Melbourne, Australia, I quickly realized that people often mention which footy club they follow in short introductions and small talk. I even wrote an article about it. Click here to read it.
You can be the most talented candidate, and you may have had the best answers to all interview questions. But you fail to engage in small talk or conversational banter with the interviewers before or after the interview. Then this could translate to something like, "She is very smart, but I am not sure she will blend well with the team or connect with clients." Thus, small talk looms large when assessing for executive presence.
2. Dress appropriately for the job interview
In Australia and many other countries, most job interviews are now done online. This has been a major pandemic shift and one that both candidates and interviewers are still getting used to. There has been great uncertainty about what to wear to a job interview when you are, in fact, comfortably sitting at home and not getting ready to attend it in an office setting. Some organizations now send candidates a dress code for video interviews, which is a helpful strategy.
In any case, remember to dress appropriately for the industry and the occasion, even if the interview is being held in your living room via Zoom! Executive presence means you are neat and well-groomed, and you know what you wear for the job you are going for. If you are not sure, that's part of your interview preparation!
For example, if you dress in a suit when meeting operations people at a factory, that may not be the best attire. While the suit might have the right dress code for a meeting at head office, it will make you stand out negatively in the factory setting. Your interviewer may read it as "he didn't understand our culture, and that was a key part of this role." So even if the interview is done online, find out who is interviewing you and dress for them.
The color of your clothes is critical as well. In Australia, the US, Canada, and the UK, I always recommend navy blue as a color that inspires trust. I do not recommend dressing in a black suit. Black looks a lot like you're going to an event or a wedding and is not appropriate for a corporate job interview. I would stay away from high contrast in colors, such as navy and red, opting for low contrasting combinations, like navy bly and light blue. However, I'm very conscious that this blog and The Job Hunting Podcast reach out to professionals worldwide. So, make sure that you have to adapt this advice to your culture.
3. Body language
Some people adopt open and engaging body language very naturally, and some people don't. My advice is that you start learning where you fall on that spectrum, so you can make adjustments and use your body language to help you amplify your message. You might need to train and practice for that because it helps you connect with your audience.
For example, in the now-famous Meghan Markle and Oprah interview, they sit in the same way, holding their hand on their faces exactly in the same fashion. One nods when the other one nods. That body language mirroring shows that they're very connected. When people are interested in one another, researchers have found that they tend to mimic each other's movements and gestures.
When you're doing video job interviews, it's good to be mindful of your body language about others, even during a video call. At the very least, have body language that showcases your openness and willingness to engage. You can do so by using your posture and using your hands? Let your torso and hands help you tell a story. You can also learn this, and many professionals do take lessons before presenting in public forums like TED talks. When you watch a ted talk now, like this one, be mindful of the presenter's body language and how it is making you engage more (or less) with their story.
The interview - and assessing your fit for the role - begins before you start answering questions. Do you make solid eye contact? Is your handshake firm? Do you exude energy and confidence right from the start?
When you appear put-together from the start, the recruiter takes you seriously, and you set up the right first impression to score well on executive presence.
But are we still shaking hands? Not always, and you need to be mindful of that as well. In a face-to-face interview, my advice is for your to ask, "are we shaking hands?" Remember that I am based in Australia, and we have close to zero cases of COVID-19, and the situation here is fairly back to normal. So, if they say yes, I do a nice and firm handshake. If they say not, smile, and without any awkwardness, move on and sit down using your posture and small talk to remain connected and engaged with the interviewer.
It’s not enough to have good posture just at the start. Ensure you are not slouching during the interview, sitting too casually, or leaning forward too aggressively. This may read like common sense to you, but I have had all three happen when interviewing candidates many more times than I wished!
Recruiters and decision-makers expect their new hires to have executive presence and poise. If you normally slouch (like I do!), there's a high chance that you probably will slouch at some point in the interview process if you are not mindful of your posture. My trick has been to fix your posture before answering each question.
Your posture is also a dead giveaway if you think things are not going your way. And if this is true, you don't want the interviewers to know that you are uncomfortable. There may still be time to self-correct. Think of tennis players who make a come-back after losing two straight sets!
Another mistake is to lean forward too aggressively when you're answering a question. Sometimes you can do that accidentally in a video interview by being too close to the camera!
I am a big user of hands to tell stories. I like to use the back and palm of my hands to tell a story and show openness. You may have observed politicians using this technique. This is because they've been trained to show their hands and to speak with their hands as they're telling your story. A pro at using hands to tell a story is former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. One of the best examples was her famous misogyny speech, which you can watch here.
On the other hand, you don’t want to be so animated that you gesture wildly! It is a thin line, I know! It requires practice, and that is why I am a coach! :)
To sum up, the 6 unexpected ways that can help you nail your next job interview are:
- Small talk
- Appropriate attire
- Body language
Podcast Episode Timestamps:
- 03:42 - Small talk
- 09:16 - Appropriate attire
- 15:49 - Body language
- 19:04 - Greetings
- 21:33 - Posture
- 24:25 - Gestures
Links mentioned in this episode:
- Episode 82. How to show executive presence in a job interview
- Preview of Meghan Markle and Oprah interview
- TED Talk with Atul Gawande
- Join my mailing list and receive my free resources
- Download a transcript of this episode