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When body language is a make or break thing

Bikram Vohra (Between the Lines)
Filed on November 30, 2019 | Last updated on November 30, 2019 at 09.39 pm

Don't knock on the door and say, "May I come in, Sir." They just called your name, didn't they, so why ask permission to enter.

After public speaking the scariest situation we can get into is the job interview. That time when we wait for our name to be called and wish the earth would swallow us up.

So many good people do well in the written exams and then make such a thorough mess of it when facing this tribunal.

I learnt long ago that interviews should not be dreaded. Instead, you should see them as a fun thing and though that is easier said than done, we start out by being wrong in our preparations.

For one, never over dress. Be smart and appropriately attired but do not overdo it and go over the top formal, with a tie that is killing you and an ill-fitting suit. And squeaky tight shoes.

Okay, so let's talk about body language.

You are sitting outside with ten others waiting for that awful summons. Working yourself up, boning up on questions with answers that are now going to come out trite and contrived.

How many of you folks out there who are looking to get a good job and jumpstart your careers confuse respect for servility? Wrong thing to do, sends out the message that you are desperate and you have no self-esteem. Ask yourself, why would you have someone on the team who has no self-esteem. Even if you are doing this docile, subservient thing as a ploy, it does not fly. Respect is an admix of courtesy and grace under pressure and politeness with a firm covering. It is not:

a) Sitting precariously on the edge of the chair.

b) Not sitting because you want to show deference.

c) Covering your lap with your hands. You are a man, act like one. If you are a woman, sit up straight.look them in the eye.

d) Nodding your head wildly to show agreement even if you do not agree.

e) Saying Sir every few words, like yes sir I will do that sir, certainly sir, I am good at such work, sir. Stop it, stop it.

Point taken. Now let's go back to the start. Your name is called. It is your turn to enter the interview room. Grab a sip of water if you can so as not to enter with a dry throat and stress.

Don't knock on the door and say, "May I come in, Sir." They just called your name, didn't they, so why ask permission to enter. Just a quick knock and you say 'good day' or whatever and that is enough. And do not bend over to half your size in that 'I am such a miserable creature' crouch when you knock. Nothing annoys the panel more than that display of inferiority. No one is impressed that you are a nice person.

You can say, 'May I sit down' but not as a request as much as a statement of intent. That is why the chair is there. It is not a decoration.

Now, you have sat down; look comfortable and relaxed even if your heart is pounding with the tension. The people interviewing you are normal human beings. They have had a fight with their wives, their car broke down, one is probably suffering from acidity, the other is worried about his golf chip shot, another is upset because his best staffer dumped him, so don't be intimidated, come off confident. If need be, practice your posture in a mirror the night before.

Instead of a Q&A like machine gun fire try to melt it all into a conversation. Be relaxed and not nod your head off and kill your chances with a string of anythings - What will you do? Anything. How much salary? Anything. Share accommodation? Anything.

That is the worst thing you can do.

Also avoid tics. Like shaking a knee drumming fingers, scratching ears, all of these become annoying distractions.

When the ordeal is over do not be too profuse in your gratitude like spouting a volley of thank yous. They have done nothing for you, so one thank you is sufficient. And don't back off to the door like they were royalty. You look silly doing that. At all times maintain your dignity. And if you miss the bus, there will be another one coming around soon.

-bikram@khaleejtimes.com


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