• Khaulah Abbas

So You Got to The Interview: Now What?

You have an upcoming interview and are in a panic. You’ve been physically distancing and spending most of your time having zoom meetings in your sweats. Now, you have a job interview that has to be done virtually as that is what life has become. You want to nail this interview and come across as the competent, capable and likeable person you are. How can you do this virtually?

Just as you would arrive early for an in-person interview, do the same for a virtual one. This gives you the necessary time to set up your laptop, make sure the microphone is working, and that you are seated in a place with good lighting. Being early also gives you the time to become present.

Follow the go-to pose recommended prior to any big speaking engagement: The power pose. It may sound strange, but it is associated with positivity. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and hands on hips for two minutes and breathe slowly. Feel yourself taking up more space; it’ll help boost your confidence and prompt you to put your best self forward.

Once you’ve sat down, ground yourself. This is very much as it sounds: place your feet on the ground and breathe deeply to keep your calm before the interview begins.

Keep these in mind:

1.Dress for Success: Dress the same way you would for an in-person interview; it’s only the medium that has changed, nothing else. Dressing up completely (head to toe) puts you in a professional mindset, giving you confidence and poise, to show your capabilities. Be mindful of what you wear as sometimes busy or complex patterns and colors don’t work well with the camera and can be distracting and confusing. The world’s favorite color is blue so you can’t go wrong with that as it shows loyalty and trust. Black is also a good powerful color to wear. White is always appropriate but be mindful if you are sitting in front of a white wall, it could result in you looking like a floating head.

2.Posture:Your posture says great deal about you and is one of the many things looked at when people evaluate your confidence and likeability. Your posture can tell if you are confident, uncomfortable or arrogant. Posture not only tells others how you feel, it also affects how you feel. You can try this for yourself: slouch and tell yourself “I can do this”. Now imagine you have a crown on your head, sit tall, both feet on the ground lean in slightly and say, “I can do this”. Which one feels more confident?Good posture will also help you breathe better – a big plus in controlling nerves and anxiety and helps you have a better and more controlled confident speaking voice.

3.Eye Contact: A major aspect of meeting people, especially interviews, is eye contact. Good eye contact is a reflection of confidence and self-esteem. Make sure the camera is at eye level. This way it looks as if you are maintaining eye contact, thus establishing trust and rapport. (you may want to close the picture of yourself to avoid distraction to yourself). If you set it too high and look down, it appears as if you are looking down on someone (not friendly nor comfortable). 

4.Smile: A great way to show likeability and friendship is to have a genuine smile: this involves smiling with the eyes as well as the mouth. So, when you first meet your interviewer, give a genuine smile, and smile when appropriate during the interview.

5.Avoid Fidgeting: When we get nervous, stressed or anxious, we tend to use self- pacifying gestures such as twirling our hair, playing with jewelry or touching our face to help us cope. This will detract from your credibility and confidence because these are submissive gestures and will give the impression of unsure of yourself or unprepared. Some people shake their feet thinking that its ok because they can’t be seen; however, this shows in the shoulders and making your nervousness apparent and distracting to the interviewer.

6.Positioning Yourself: A lot of times, people sit so close to their screen that their heads fill up the other person’s screen, while others sit so far back that they appear distant. Ideally, sit back to where your upper torso and hands can show. This will not only be more visually appealing but also people who show their hands are seen as more trustworthy, especially when words are reinforced with proper hand gestures.

Being aware of your own body language is helpful to build rapport, but how can you tell how your interview is going based on the interviewer’s body language?

Smile, Nod, and Eye Contact: The trifecta of a good interview. When you have these three, you are having a good interview. Eye contact shows interest, nods are agreement and smile is friendliness. Continue matching this energy. When you feel you have rapport and click with the interviewer, you are most probably having a good interview.

What about some things that show your interview may not be going so well? Eye Contact: Is your interviewer looking elsewhere or distracted much of the time? This may be because she is disengaged or not interested. Here, you may get to your point quickly and ask the interviewer a question so that they are responding and involved. Hands: Are the interviewer’s hands relaxed and open or are they clenched and kneading each other? If they are clenched, think about the answers you are giving and clarify them as perhaps the interviewer has issue or disagrees with them. Sitting Back or Leaning In: If an interviewer is leaning in, it shows interest in what you are saying – this is a good sign. However, if s/he is leaning back with arms crossed s/he could be bored or disconnected. If you get to this point, you may ask the interviewer a question about themselves or bring up the energy. Fidgeting or Finger Tapping: If your interviewer is tapping fingers or shaking legs, it may best for you to get to your point across quicker as it shows the interviewer is getting impatient.

While these behaviors can be discouraging; rather than panicking and going into a free-fall, maintain your confidence and poise and continue doing your best.

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