Unlike the college graduates of even ten years ago, today’s graduates are not only having to compete against their peers but also against baby boomers for a limited number of positions. A recent study found that companies are hiring 50+ year-old candidates 3:1 over millennials.
Our generation’s reliance on social media has significantly altered the way we interact with one another. For example, we much rather instant message than call someone and email than meet face-to-face.
As a result, older managers are struggling to learn how to work with us and often just avoid the problem altogether by hiring mature workers who communicate in similar ways to how they do.
However, if you can demonstrate during the interview that you’re fluent in the style of communication that the recruiter and, more importantly, the hiring manager are looking for, you can gain an edge on your peers and hopefully over older applicants as well.
Since over 65% of communication occurs non-verbally, it is particularly important to pay attention to and something that the recruiter and hiring manager will focus on. The problem is that we are so used to encapsulating our entire messages into text that we often do not think about what are bodies and tone are saying when we are speaking in-person.
Even if you answer all of the interview questions well, if you don’t pay attention to what your non-verbal cues are saying, chances are you won’t get the job. When competing against Baby Boomers who already pay attention to their own non-verbal cues and know how to send the right message, you’ll need to learn a few things to put you on an even playing field.
Here are 10 tips to make sure you’re conveying the right message during your interview:
- Sit patiently in the lobby. The moment you step into the building, your interview has started. Recruiters will often talk with receptionists to see what a candidate was like while in the waiting room. While waiting, avoid being on your phone and rather try reviewing notes.
- Dress business formal. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed. The moment recruiters first see you, they begin to form an impression of you. While your bright hair, tattoos, and piercings might be a staple of your personality, they are often perceived as unprofessional, and it is best to cover them up.
- Don’t look at your phone during the interview. We have a tendency to grab our phones the second we have nothing else to do. Even while the recruiters are taking notes, do not pull out your phone, even if just to check the time. To older generations, it conveys disinterest. Use that downtime to focus on making sure that you are sending the right non-verbal cues.
- Be aware of your tone. You will not have emoticons or slang to explain the emotions behind what you say. Exude enthusiasm and passion in your answers. Be lively, but pause when appropriate.
- Be attentive to your posture. As a result of constantly being on our computers and phones, we tend to slouch. However, doing so sends the message that you are not paying attention or are not interested. Try to sit straight with your shoulders back.
- Smile. You want to work here and are excited to have an interview, remember? Although you will be nervous, try to show them you’re glad to be there. It doesn’t have to be forced and you definitely don’t want it to look like you’re in pain, but do try to show you’re excited to be at their company.
- Be observant of where your hands and arms are. Tapping your fingers on the table or twiddling your thumbs, even if just while the recruiters are taking notes, communicates that you are anxious to move on or have grown bored. Crossing your arms sometimes can be perceived as you are not being open or defensive. Instead, keep your hands folded on your lap on resting on the armchairs. If you’re comfortable using hand gestures, go ahead as long as their appropriate.
- Give eye contact. It is the clearest way to show that you are giving the person your undivided attention. If there are multiple recruiters and you are talking, divide your eye contact equally among them. Just don’t try to make it appear as if you want to start a staring contest or are talking to your imaginary friend sitting at an empty seat!
- Finish by giving each recruiter a firm handshake. Take initiative by reaching out. Give each recruiter a handshake while thanking them for their time. Try to remember their names, so you can thank each of them by name. Keep in mind an overly firm handshake will convey that you’re arrogant while one that’s too weak will be perceived as you’re not confident.
- Send a thank-you note. Sending a handwritten card, or at least an email, to each of the recruiters in the next day or two after the interview thanking them for their time will make you stand out as a candidate. Make sure to keep it professional, short, and personalized. Try to include something positive you noticed about the company, such as how friendly the receptionist was, showing that you were attentive to the company even outside of the actual interview.
By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to sending the right non-verbal message during your interview, and, if all goes well, getting the job.
If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the box below.
If you’re interested in learning more about non-verbal communication and how you can read others’ non-verbal cues, read more at:
“5 Nonverbal Buying Signals You Can’t Afford To Miss”
“The importance of non-verbal communication in professional interpretation”
“All Thumbs: How nonverbal and verbal skills can make all the difference with donors”