It’s the rare day when Portland career counselor Vicki Lind gets a finger-wag from one of her clients. But that’s what was happening that day.
The wobbly digit came from Cris, a straight-talking New Yorker seeking a non-profit job in Portland.
In an mock-interview, Cris was asked how she would handle a difference of opinion with her boss. Cris’s rapid-fire practice-answer with Vicki included a finger-wag and the statement:
“I’d go behind closed doors, give my honest opinion and expect him or her to respect mine. Then, if he or she won, I’d go out and show public support.”
This answer had some strength to it, but it reflected two mistakes in Cris’s delivery:
- Even in her practice answer, Cris shook her finger in a scolding gesture. Most bosses want sharp, intelligent associates who feel welcome to be honest, but without the wagging finger. It hints at a possible role reversal.
- Cris’s win/lose metaphor played to the stereotype that New Yorkers are aggressive. Not an ideal impression to make in Portland’s laid back, non-profit community.
In job interviews, it’s natural for the candidate to think of him or herself as the center of the meeting. And that’s how most job candidates behave. So, imagine the impression you’d make on your prospective boss if you redirected the spotlight.
In other words, impress the hiring manager by making them–your future boss–the most important person in the interview!
Pause a little longer
Take a note from Midwestern mannerisms. Research has shown that Midwesterners leave a longer pause after someone stops speaking; nearly twice as long as a New Yorker’s speedy reply.
Giving a longer pause implies that you are interested in the speaker’s thoughts, you’re really letting them sink in, and you’re waiting to see if they’ll tell you more. Who wouldn’t feel flattered?
Do your research
It’s human nature for people to bond with those who show interest in their ideas and concerns. Research your interviewer on LinkedIn. Then, reveal this effort with relevant questions about their priorities and professional approach.
In addition to asking relevant questions, show your engagement and interest through your body posture and facial expressions. During the course of the interview make eye contact with everyone in the room.
Send the right signals
A mere 7% of any message comes from the words we use. Before your next job interview, practice greater awareness of the messages that you’re conveying, intentionally or otherwise.
And of course, leave any wagging extremities at home!