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Interview Preparation Series: Article 2 – Understanding the importance of creating the right perception 

 

The second blog in this series will focus on displaying a positive body image through confidence in speech and appearance. As non-verbal communication forms an essential part of professional impression, it can be used to send messages like weakness of character in terms of nervousness and confusion or strength in terms of confidence. Guiding our cues to exhibit confident body language will require constant vigilance and practice of what we say and how we say it.

 

Some of the components are an intrinsic part of who we are, and changing them can require accurate feedback, correct guidelines and ongoing support. A few topics that you can do self study on, are – Albert Mehrabian’s model for communication and perception, Anthony Robbins and Louise Hay on positive phrases and presentation of yourself to the world. Work on eye movements – and how facial expressions and eye movements are together used for lie detecting and in interrogation techniques. It’s interesting to read and learn how the smallest of expressions – i.e. micro expressions create a massive impact.

The purpose of this blog is to make you aware, so that you can act upon the following perceptions consciously and work towards improving your first impression –

  • Identifying traits that should be reflected
  • Learning non verbal signals
  • Knowing about Verbal phrases and styles of speech
  • Applying the knowledge to create a new persona

 

When you first meet someone, try to figure out if you like or dislike the person and also what did the individual do that you felt the way you did.

Mark the following traits –

  • Did he/she talk in a certain way?
  • Did he/she speak words that you did not like?
  • What about how he/she walked?
  • What he/she wore?
  • The way he/she used her hands
  • The way he/she sat or stood

 

There are a number of ways that makes us decide whether we like a person or not at the first instance. Also our perception changes with communication. For example, you may have felt that a certain individuals are extremely rude and arrogant, and doesn’t talk because they ‘think too much’ of themselves. But when you interact with them, you find that they are simply shy. It’s true that sometimes, when we get to know the person better, we discover that they are different from the first impression.

The problem is that when that first meeting is a job interview or an important meeting, the other person may not be ready to spend so much time in discovering who we really are as individuals. We have to learn to convey an image that reflects our values and  positive image in the first impression itself.

Albert Mehrabian’s model of communication says how 55% of the communication happens through what we see, followed by the tone of voice (38%) and then the words that we use (7%).

 

What I see is what I believe in

  • Body language
  • Gestures
  • Posture
  • Eye movement
  • Hand/Body Movement
  • Appearance – style of dressing & grooming
  • Facial Expression
  • Personal Space
  • Handshake

 

How the interviewer can perceive us

  • When my hairs are not properly tied/combed back: People think I don’t care about myself, what will I care about my job responsibility?
  • When I hold my hands tight, across my chest: People think, I am hiding something, and not telling the truth, what will happen in the job?
  • When I speak softly: People think that I cannot express, and am not confident, how will I speak to the customers?

 

Body Language: Some Quick Tips

  • Keep your spine straight – while sitting or standing (posture)
  • Keep your arms open, do not cross them across your chest
  • While standing, do not cross them behind your body, or the front of your body
  • Don’t touch any part of your body, esp face.
  • Sit all the way back in your seat- not on the edge or on one side
  • Keep your palms facing upwards
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Do not play/fidget with a pen, your sleeve, a book
  • Do not keep shaking your hand or your leg

 

How to show you are listening

  • Lean in, when they start to talk
  • Nod every now and then to indicate you are listening (do not over nod)
  • Use words like ‘OK’, ‘All right’, ‘Yes’ to show that you have understood

 

Personal Appearance

Making first impression matters most. Dressing sends a message that you are professional. If you take pride in the way you look, it will reflect that you take pride in what you do. It boosts confidence in not only yourself, but also the employer will feel confident about you.

 

Professional dressing

Take care of the following things, especially –

  • Style: Western, Indian and Semi
  • Colours of the textile
  • Accessories
  • Footwear
  • Perfume
  • Hair

 

Some Does and Don’ts

Do

  • Keep it simple(Clothes, accessories and footwear)
  • Choose plain solid colours without many patterns
  • See that you are wearing right size
  • Smell Right, not strong
  • Use a mouth freshner & a deodrant

 

Don’t

  • Don’t wear sparkly wear unless there is an occasion
  • Colours should not be bright all the time
  • Tight clothes should be avoided
  • Over accessorise
  • Wear too much jewellery

Gestures

  • Hand gestures can make or break a communication.
  • Keep an open palm gesture while explaining something
  • Be conservative about how much you move your arms. While they distract, they can also give the impression of a highly emotional person

 

Facial Expression: Always match the expressions with the emotions

  • Keep a smile
  • When thinking, restrict eye movement
  • Don’t raise your eyebrows to much
  • Don’t Frown
  • Don’t over-smile
  • Don’t show extreme negative emotions, even if the questions trigger such a memory. Present the answers in a relaxed and confident manner

 

Eye contact

Make eye contact, but not an intimidating stare at people. It’s important to know the difference. When we make eye contact and smile warmly, we convey a positive perception.

 

Shaking Hands

  • Extend your open palm firmly
  • Smile
  • The web between your thumb and fore finger should connect with the web of the other person’s hand
  • Shake the hand twice
  • The contact should not last more than 3 secs
  • Maintain eye contact while shaking hands

 

Mind your distance and do not touch

Don’t be standing or sitting too close to anyone. Everyone has different levels of boundaries and personal space. Respect that.  It’s NOT OK to touch people and talk.

 

What do these Non-Verbal cues signify?

  • Raising eyebrows – Displeasure
  • Nail biting – nervousness, stress, or insecurity. Many people bite nails without realizing they have the habit.
  • Head tilted downward – Head tilted to a side signals trust. It means the person likes what you are saying to him and believes your words. However, someone tilting his head while resting it on his hand will give an exactly opposite idea.
  • Crossed arms – This is one of the body language examples that indicate that one is being defensive. The body language meaning of crossed arms may also show disagreement with opinions and actions of other people with whom you are communicating.
  • Thumbs up – wishing “Good Luck ”
  • Hands in pockets – people put their hands in pocket when they feel unsatisfied with their looks, clothes or their actions.
  • Looking towards the door – Lack of interest, they may be unconsciously saying that they are ready to cut the talk short and move on.
  • Clasping hands with intertwined fingers – a self-pacifying gesture. A person who does this is uncomfortable, maybe even nervous or fearful
  • Shrugging your shoulders – Raising the shoulders is a submissive gesture that implies some sort of apology. We shrug our shoulders when we want to communicate the message, ‘Sorry, I can’t do anything about it’ or ‘Sorry, I don’t know’ and when done along with a slight shaking of the head, ‘Sorry, I don’t understand what you’re saying’.

The facilitator must display each of these by acting them out and ask for responses. Make sure that you prepare before hand and understand which of these are positive and which ones are negative and how they cause a negative impact.

 

BeAware of

  • Maintaining good dental hygiene
  • Maintaining good personal hygiene
  • To be free of bad breath and body odour
  • No strong perfumes
  • No onion and garlic before interviews
  • No chewing gum/pan masala/candy during the interaction
  • No letting out of air… either ways
  • No strong smelling hair oils
  • Carry a neat cloth handkerchief.. Not a towel napkin
  • Handbag of neutral color – like black or brown
  • Shoes of a neutral color – like black or brown
  • Lipsticks- neutral and soft shades
  • Nail polish- neutral and soft shades, no black , blue
  • Make sure the nail polish is not chipped
  • Your shoes should be cleaned and polished if needed

 

Some aspects of spoken English and what a listener looks for when you speak-

 

Clarity: Is the speaker clear? Or are they mumbling their words and speech

Volume:  Is the speaker loud enough to be heard?

Speed: Is the speaker too fast or too slow?

Fluency: Is the speech fluent or are there too many pauses and stops?

Expression: Is there a change of tone to show change in emotion, or is it a flat tone?

 

How can we work on the words?

It is necessary that we convey a positive image, and we can do that by using some positive phrases in our language

Used Phrases Suggested Phrases
Ok Sure, Of course
I don’t know… What I do know is…
I am not sure… What I am sure about is…
I am not aware…. Let me check on that…Let me find out.. I will find out more about this
Ok.. That’s a great idea, an excellent suggestion
Yes I completely agree, That’s perfect
I apologize , I am extremely sorry I am sorry
Why Could you please tell me why
Can I May I
Correct me if I am wrong Help me clarify what I know.

 

 

Author: Baishali Mukherjee

Profile- An independent writer and journalist for last nine years; presently working with Education World, Entrepreneur India, Scrabbl.com and Stoodnt.com. Worked as the content head for four books and have articles and features published in leading print and digital media spaces.

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