Transcript #83. 6 Unexpected ways on how to nail that job interview (Executive presence part 2)

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Renata: Hello, job hunters and career enthusiasts. Welcome to The Job Hunting Podcast. If you're new here, remember to subscribe, I would love to have you here next week again, and for those who have been following The Job Hunting Podcast for some time, thank you. I really, really appreciate it. In episode 82, we discussed executive presence, and today episode 83, we will continue to discuss executive presence but in a different way. Executive presence has lots of dimensions to it. So in episode 82, we spoke about gravitas and communication and confidence, and the pressure, decisiveness, and so on. This time, we are going to look into aspects of executive presence that require emotional and social intelligence for you to acquire and use to make sure that you get through that job interview and that you're successful in your career in the long term. I'm always very keen to help you in the short term, getting your job and moving on with your career transition, but also I'm very keen to support you in the long term. And all of these things that we do learn about job hunting and recruitment and selection can be used in the future to help you advance in your career. So if you're not job hunting right now and you're listening, good for you.


Renata: So what is it about executive presence that requires emotional and social intelligence to understand? And why is it important? First of all, it's important because you need to be wired up to bring people together to adopt you as a candidate if you're job hunting, but in the future to adopt unpopular changes, new big projects that might be very enterprise-wide and really unsettling for your team and for the organization, but that, you know, will bring in great results for the company over time. So things like the aspects that I'm going to talk to you today, which I'm going to address in such a way that it helps you during job interviews, you will be able to use them in the future for other things as well. 


Renata:   Number one, let's talk about small talk. In a job interview situation, there is no such thing as small talk. Everything that you say and do during the recruitment and selection process, even before the job interview. So when you're answering a call, the way that you answered a call, how fast you answer back if they left a voicemail for you, the emails you send, the way that you write your resume, the way that you present yourself in every opportunity, the consistency of that presentation is important. And small talk is part of showing up consistently on-brand with likeability and trust. So that people that don't know you at all or don't know you very well think of you as the best possible candidate for the position that they have available. Right? So small talk is really important, and if you're not comfortable with small talk, if you feel like you're not very clever at figuring it out, prepare for it, okay?

Renata: Don't leave it to chance. Prepare for it. So, for example, here in Melbourne, small talk is very easy here in Melbourne. And, I really enjoy explaining how important small talk is a Melbourne to people that are as foreign as I am, as you can tell by my accent. I wasn't born in Australia. I've been here for 20 years. I'm from South America. I’m from Brazil originally. And, it's not dissimilar to the way that Brazilians do business in Brazil. We do tend to be very chatty and talk a lot before we get to business. Melbourne is a lot like that. My former coach Andrea told me a great story years ago about how she walked into this meeting with a big agenda and a lot of important things that she needed to do. I should get her on the podcast so she can tell the story herself.


Renata: And she was with her boss, and the meeting was supposed to last for an hour. And for 15 minutes, the boss and the person that they were meeting, they spoke about footie. They spoke about Australian football, which if you don't know, just Google it, it's a very interesting and very different from soccer, which is what I'm used to. And they spoke about football for 15 minutes. But in 10 minutes, right at the end of that meeting, they locked in all the agreements and projects that they went there to do, right? So it wasn't small. It was quite a long introduction to something that was very important and relevant to her business. And she was, she told me the story because, during those 15 minutes of small talk, she was feeling so anxious and stressed that they wouldn't have enough time to get to business.


Renata: But the truth is they had shared all the paperwork. They had shared all the documentation. Every party in that room knew what they were there to do, right. But they were warming up to make important decisions. Now, this might sound very old-fashioned to some or very unique to others, but that's important. And small talk in job interviews is just as important. So here in Melbourne, like I said, footie is a great topic. The weather is a great topic. The traffic is a great topic, especially post-pandemic when, you know, during the lockdowns, traffic was a breeze, and Melbourne is very spread out. So if you don't know the Melbourne geography, it's a lot like LA, it's a lot like, you know, many sort of spread out cities that just go on and on and on forever. I think Melbourne is like a hundred kilometers long.


Renata: So, you know, you'd go to visit a friend, and they live like 50 kilometers away from you, and that's Melbourne, right? So, with traffic, it gets really annoying. And, so those are great topics and coffee’s another good topic. There are several like the pandemic is a topic if we have to be sensitive because it might be triggering to some, but, you know, you can use your social and emotional intelligence to have like this feeling as to what things will work well. And if you feel like you're not very good at measuring what will resonate well with your audience, go with the tried and tested small talks. 

Renata: Think about what other people say over and over again, try to remember small talks from your recent past, and then re-use that as an inspiration, add your own personal style to them. Okay. And that's the sort of preparation that I like to do when I do one-on-one consultations or when I'm working with my clients as well because every piece of the puzzle is important to get you that next job. 


Renata: The second thing I want you to focus on is the appropriate dress for your job interview. And the reason why I'm tying this all up with emotional and social intelligence is because the business dress code is not about dressing in a suit, especially post-pandemic, right? So what I have learned from clients, because I'm not in the job market anymore, so I really learn a lot from my clients, is that when they are asked to come for a video interview, some large organizations, I haven't seen small ones do this yet, but large organizations now send to candidates a dress code for that zoom interview or video interview.


Renata: And I think that's really important because it's an acknowledgment that most people are working from home. And it's kind of, we don't really know what to wear when we are at home, and we're not in an office. So some of them, I have noticed say, ‘well, dress as if you were coming into the office,’ which means dress for a corporate professional, which is a hundred percent of my clients is it's a suit right? And a tie and all of that. But I have clients, I recently had a client who went for a job interview at a factory. And it's different, even though she is a senior executive, it's a different environment, and it needs to resonate well with both the people she would be reporting to, but also to the people on the ground floor. And, while a suit might be okay in a headquarter, it's kind of stands out in an awful way in a factory environment.


Renata: So for women, it's even more of a, you know, a conversation that we need to have during those consultations, because men, it's a pair of pants, a shirt and a jacket, no tie. That would be a good one. But for women, what do you? What’s the difference between corporate attire for a job interview in a head office versus a factory setting. So, you know, we went through some ideas that she thought because she has a lot of experience in the sector that she thought was going to work. And then we looked to decide on color as well. And I think the color is really important. And I'll explain to you why. So, for example, here in Australia, I'm very conscious that I have listeners all over the world. So if you are in South Africa, Botswana, India, Singapore, Canada, where else, Oh gosh, I have people everywhere.


Renata: So you have to adapt what I'm going to say. But, this is kind of a very classic approach to job interviewing, and dress code is to dress in navy blue, right? navy blue is a color that inspires trust. 


Renata: You can tell this by the fact that many consulting companies have adopted navy blue as the key color in their logo websites. You can check all of them. They might have a key color, a highlight color like yellow or red, but they all have the navy blue there as well. You can see that in politicians, when they are addressing their constituents when they're on TV, they tend to dress in a dark navy blue, but not black. Usually, I do not recommend a black suit. It looks a lot like you're going to an event or a wedding, but it's not really appropriate. 


Renata: I don't think for job interviews in the corporate sector, you might use grey, and that's also a good color. But if you want to play safe and play conservatively and do well, I would go for navy blue, and I would stay away from high contrast in colors. So, you know, the navy blue with a red tie would not, I would not recommend that for a job interview. I would go navy blue with a blue tie, a white shirt, and that works well. I do styling for clients. I recently did one for a young graduate. We went shopping together. It was, you know, his first set of interviews, he just graduated from university, and I love doing it. It's one of those things that I try not to do because it takes so much of my time, but it's really fun.


Renata: So we bought him a navy blue suit, a light blue shirt, and he had lots of ties. So he was going to choose a tie, but he was also one of those job candidates that may have an interview in a head office in Melbourne, the CBD. And then he may also have an interview in a more casual setting and more factory setting because he’s graduating in engineering. So I explained to him the difference, and we also bought him a khaki pair of pants that he could match with the navy blazer for those more casual interactions with potential employers. So I think that he got an internship. Three months internship, and now he's looking for a graduate role. So yeah, I hope that the dress code that we selected for him helped him with that internship.


Renata: Good for him. So those things are really important. Think about the colors that work well for your culture or your country, where you are, those that will inspire people to trust you and to engage with you and to like you, so think about all of those things. And again, you know, it's a bit about taking a leaf out of my book, but also using your social and emotional intelligence and your understanding about where you are in the world to find the best possible solution that will suit you your sector and your region. 


Renata:   The third thing I want to talk to you about is body language. Body language is really important, and some people adopt an open and engaging body language very naturally, and some people don't. So you need to understand where you are on that spectrum. 

Renata: I think that if you are anxious and stressed and a bit fearful walking into an interview, which is like most people, you know, everybody has a little bit of nervousness and stress going into an interview. It will exacerbate whatever it is that is your weaknesses and body language mimicking if that is not something that you're used to do, you might need to train and practice for that because it really helps you connect with your audience. Oh, okay. I have a great example for you. Even if you don't like either of these women, watch the Megan Markle and Oprah interview, and you will understand what mimicking body language is. They are sitting, and they are, you know, sitting in exactly the same way, holding hands, holding their hand on their faces exactly in the same fashion. One nods when the other one nods. That is really showing that they're very connected, and they're connecting more and more and getting more and more of that body language connection over the course of that interview.


Renata: So I really enjoyed watching that interview for that reason. I thought that was a great example. You know, you can see that, that they're both crossing legs in the same way. It's really an interesting way of understanding the importance of body language. And even if you're doing video job interviews, which happens these days, it's important to have at least a body language that showcases your openness. So learn to use your body language and hands to support your message, you know, is your posture upright? Are you connecting with your audience with your body? Are you using your hands to help you tell a story? This is something that you can also learn from people on Ted talks. There is a very kind of recipe way to do a great Ted talk that includes moving around  the room and using your hands.


Renata: I don't want you to move around when you're doing a job interview, but those hands are gestures, and the facial expressions when people are telling great stories, they do help you to engage. And it will help you in the job interview as well. So practice for those, you know, people tend to have this obsession with practicing their answers. But if you just rehearsed and spit them out, it's not going to make you connect with the audience. You have to be very holistic in the way that you think about job interviews. 


Renata: All right. The next thing we're going to talk about is greetings. Do you make solid eye contact when you're greeting the job interviewers? What about your handshake? Now, things have changed a lot since 2020, and I will tell you how I have decided to move forward with handshakes. I ask the person, are we shaking hands? Are we shaking hands? And if they say yes, of course, I do a nice and firm handshake that doesn't squish the person's hand, but it's not sort of wishy-washy, and it's better to ask. And if they say yes, then you go and do that handshake with, you know, with gusto. The reason why I ask is even though Australia is the COVID is very under control. People may have an autoimmune disease. They may be protecting themselves until they get vaccinated. 


Renata: They might, you know, have any sort of issues that I don't know. And I think we are changing the way we think about handshakes, and it could be that handshakes will be a thing of the past. Who knows? Right now, I ask people. And if they say yes, of course, and we shake hands. If there is no handshake, then make sure that you smile, that you wave your hands, especially if it's a job interview done online by video. And that you show that openness and that willingness to connect. But if you do decide to do a handshake and if that's okay where you are in the world, and if the person you're meeting is fine with it, then do it with energy and confidence from the start, right? I think what is making people uncomfortable is that they don't know, and then it doesn't feel good when you do it. So that's what I have decided to do personally. And I invite you to consider doing that as well. The interview begins even before you start answering questions, right? That handshake, that solid eye contact, the way that you greet people in person or in video is really important.

Renata: All right. What else? Let's talk about posture a little bit more because I want you to think about your body language and connecting with others using your body language. But I also want you to think about your posture, not just at the start of the interview, but make sure that you sit tall as a mountain and don't slouch. And the reason why it's important to be mindful about your posture is that during the interview, things may go downhill. And if they do, you don't want your posture to give away that you are uncomfortable, right? So sitting in a way that showcases that you are not happy with the outcome of your answer or a question that was asked of you is not going to help you get the job. People have to consider you the best possible candidate for that organization.


Renata: And if you're a slouch or if you lean in forward too aggressively when you're answering a question, for example, or if you are not connecting or looking at the camera when people are asking you a question. That may not be the best way to connect with that organization and with the decision-makers that are going to be choosing who they want to invest in, who they want to train, who they want to bring on board, and eventually who they want to lead part of their business. And, you know, you need to make sure that you connect with that. When I said, look at the person when they're asking you a question, some people have discussed with me this thing that happens when we are answering a question that we look away because we're thinking because we're thinking and retrieving information from our memory and we tend to look away, and that's fine.


Renata: And I think a lot of people will do that during the interview. But remember to come back to the screen and look people in the eye every now and then to make sure that they are connecting with your story. 

Renata: If they are nodding, if they're looking at you, if they are still interested in what you're saying, because not being in person, you know, during a video interview, makes it more challenging for you to know when to stop or when to carry on. So that's a really important part of the posture and how you present yourself.


Renata: And finally, I want to talk to you about gestures.  And what I said before about that show of hands during a video interview at the beginning, you know, if you're not shaking hands, at least wave, that's really important. I am a big user of hands to tell stories. And I also like to use the palm of my hands to show openness. And you can see that in a lot of politicians that they've been trained to show their hands and to speak with their hands, as they're telling your story. I do that naturally. It's part of my culture in Brazil. We use our hands a lot. I remember my grandmother using her hands quite a lot, and I was fascinated by the way that she used her hands to tell stories when we were younger. I have to be careful in Australia, which is a different culture, not to fidget too much or be too animated and wild with the use of my hands.


Renata: So I have tamed it down, but I've been here for 20 years, and I've learned that over time. Especially in video, it can be disconcerting because your hands will be closer to the camera than your face. And it will be a bit busy for the people watching you on the other side of the screen. But it's important to remember to make sure that you're using your body to engage and answer your questions. And I think it will be important that you observe now that I've mentioned to you a few examples of politicians and Ted talks and the Oprah and Meghan Markle interview that you go back and watch those because you will get some cues from it. And I think that from now on, if you haven't yet paid attention to these things, you might pay attention to how people on TV when they're interviewed by the news.


Renata: And you know, if they are professionals, of course, you will see how they use their hands. Here in Victoria, the Premier, during the lockdowns, he was doing daily addresses to the media and the community to give updates on how the lockdown was going and the measures that were being implemented. And I remember that for the first, ours was the hardest lockdown in the world, I believe. I'm not sure if that still stands now, but definitely, it was terrible in 2020. And I remember in the first few weeks of that lockdown, he was holding on to the lectern so firmly, it's almost like he was afraid to let it go, you know, and you could feel the tension and the importance of what he was trying to say. And frankly, I think that I mean, I felt that it wasn't the best way to present. I wish that you know, but what can you do? He’s human, right?

Renata: But I think that over time, he let go of that lectern. Thank goodness. And, you know, we all grew more used, and we got ourselves accustomed to lock down to doing daily presses with the premiere and all of that. And he let go of the lectern, but it was really interesting to see how difficult it was for him to tell that story he was holding on so firmly. And he was so tense. Probably very tired as well with lack of sleep. But over time, he did let go of the lectern, and he was using his hands to communicate with Victorians about what was happening here. So that's a good example. And you can now watch the news and observe how people use their hands in the video, because, you know, now a lot of the interviews will be done on video.


Renata: I've recently prepared a flyer, which I used for an event that was held here in Melbourne on Sunday. And I printed flyers to give out to the people attending this event. And then on Monday, I contacted a few recruiters that I know, and I said, look, I have these flyers, do you want me to send you some flyers so that you can have it in the office to give to your job candidates? I say this because I get most of my clients, maybe 50% of my clients come to me referred by headhunters and recruiters, right. So I thought, well, maybe if they have a flyer, it's easier for them to recommend me. And they said, well, no, look, they're not a lot of people coming here. In fact, one recruiter said, we haven't seen anybody since March last year, it's all done online.


Renata: So don't worry. We will still refer them to your website. And I’m like, okay. So I'm assuming that these recruiters are interviewing everybody online and via video and et cetera. So we need to start getting our cues and our examples of what to do in our own video format for job interviews, for presentations, for internal communications, from TV, from other professionals that have been trained to do this for many, many years. And we're now sort of catching up. Having said that, I do have clients that have gone to face-to-face interviews. And it's very exciting. It's a bit problematic because if you've been in lockdown for a long time, you may have lost weight, or you may have gained weight, and your corporate attire don't fit you anymore. And then very quickly you have to figure out what to wear.


Renata: So if you're in that situation, make sure you have an interview sort of clothes ready and that you've tried it on to make sure it fits. So we had a problem like that a couple of weeks ago. It was quite funny and entertaining, but you know, it is stressful. So you don't want to be in that situation, right? That's it for this episode. And, next week we are going to talk about the final aspect of executive presence, which is your reputation and how you maintain a positive professional reputation over time. But if you are here and you're still listening, and you're keen to carry on supporting your job hunting experience and your career advancement, why don't you sign up for my newsletter? I have a newsletter. It goes out every week. 

Renata: It sends you the new episode and a whole bunch of other curated articles that I find online and anything that I think is important for my community to get. And it's the only way to get it is signing up for the newsletter. So there's a link to the newsletter registration in the episode show notes, or just go to my website,, and you can sign up there. I will send you some free resources as well for you to start using and to help you with your job hunt. Bye for now until next time.


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