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08-05-2014 3:52:39

Interviewing for media jobs: body language speaks volumes

Tom Pammenter|Freelance

Interviewing for media jobs: body language speaks volumes

We often make business contacts via phone calls, email and social media. It can sometimes be weeks or months (perhaps even years) before we meet.

That’s the all-important first contact taken care of.

But then another type of communication kicks in – the non-verbal kind: body language. And it’s this that really impacts on someone’s (an interviewer’s?) first impression of you.

It’s been said that it first impressions are formed in only seven seconds so pay attention to the following and you’ll give yourself the best chance of making the right one.

  • Eye contact

It sounds obvious but simple things like looking at the interviewer directly can help you massively. This is probably the most important element of body language and something that you must get right. When you do this, it’s a very positive signal.

When you’re talking about something that’s really important to you, don’t look away mid-sentence but hold your eye-contact until the end of the sentence or the end of the thought.

Shifting your gaze back and forth can make you appear nervous. Fixing your eyes on the ceiling when you talk, as if the answers you’re looking for are up there, can also lead the person you’re talking to getting the wrong impression about you.

  • Handshake

This is all about firmness. You’re sending a signal with your handshake.

If it makes someone feel like they’re holding a piece of wet lettuce when they’re shaking your hand, it’s probably a good idea to ‘firm up’: a firm handshake exudes confidence and composure.

Equally important, however, is that you don’t grab hold of the interviewer’s hand and hang on to it as if your life depended on it.

  • Smile

Interviewers want to see not only that you can do a job for them but that also, crucially, you’ll fit in with the people who already work at the company. Smiling warmly and easily communicates to an interviewer that you’re friendly, confident and probably likeable.

  • Posture

Dropping your shoulders back and leaning forward from the waist can signal that you’re engaged and interacting with the person talking to you. You’re showing that you’re interested in what they have to say. Sit still and don’t slouch or hunch.

  • Dress

Dress in a way that’s smart, appropriate and personal to you. Normal media jobs’ attire may well differ from many other industries but even if it casual dress is the accepted way, there’s no harm in dressing smartly for your interview. It shows you mean business.

In short, make sure these things help you rather than hurt you.

The quality of your voice

The non-verbal factors above are then added to the quality of your voice. This of course is the one aspect of communication that might carry over from the initial contact (ie, if that contact was made over the phone).

Does your speech sound clear and confident? What’s your opening gambit?

This initial message is crucial. Get it right and you feel like everything flows nicely from this point; make a mess of it and it can leave you thinking about the error you’ve made rather than focusing on what you need to focus on: the here and now and putting your best foot forward for the rest of the meeting.

“If there’s any element of how we present ourselves that’s overlooked by most people, it is the quality of your voice,” says Christine K. Jahnke, author of The Well-Spoken Woman.

“But the starting point is knowing how you sound,” Christine adds. “Does your voice project confidence? Is the tone warm, does it have resonance? Or, on the other hand, could your voice etch glass?”

“A common mistake – and it’s not even so much a mistake, more a function of nerves – if you are a junior person and maybe interviewing for a first job, it’s not unexpected that you might speak more quickly, your pace may be too quick. But to know that if you lower the tone of your voice a little bit, that literally adds more meaning to your words. A lower tone sounds more [substantive] and what you’re talking about sounds more important.”

So as you can see, there’s quite a bit to consider when trying to land your desired job. While body language is not an exact science, understanding it enables stronger self-awareness and self-control.

Whatever you do, try to avoid these 10 body language mistakes (source: forbes.com):

  1. Avoiding Eye Contact

When you don’t look someone in the eyes, it can signal deception or a lack of respect.

 

  1. Slouching

Bad posture signals to others that you lack confidence and have poor self esteem or low energy levels.

 

  1. Weak Handshake

A handshake that isn’t firm will signal a lack of authority. One that is too firm could make you seem overly aggressive.

 

  1. Folding Arms

This stance creates a sense of being closed off and may signal to others that you are disinterested in them or don’t buy into their message.

 

  1. Looking Down

If giving a presentation, when you look down while making a point, it loses all of its power and can may you look weak. In everyday interactions, it can make you look uncomfortable or self-conscious.

 

  1. Angling Body Away From Others

Too much physical distance, angling the body away from the person you’re speaking with or not leaning into a conversation shows that you are uncomfortable, distrustful or disinterested in the subject.

 

  1. Fidgeting And Touching Hair

Fidgeting and playing with hair or clothes can reveal an excess of energy, which signals discomfort or anxiety.

 

  1. Invading Others’ Space

When you are closer than 1.5 feet away from a colleague or you treat their possessions and office space as if it were your own, it signals disrespect and that you don’t have a clear understanding of personal boundaries.

 

  1. Glancing At The Clock

Glancing at the clock or at your watch or even looking past a person who you’re speaking with will communicate disinterest or arrogance.

 

  1. Frowning Or Scowling

Scowls and frowns, often unintentional and unconscious, communicate unhappiness and disagreement.

Boost your chances of landing a great media job. Talk to Frame 25 today.

 

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