Communication ~ Interviews ~ Non-verbal Impressions (part 7)

Let’s talk about mannerisms and body movements ~ also known as nervous habits! Do you know what you do without thinking about it? Do you play with your hair, move your feet nonstop, scratch, use the word fillers of “uh”, “um”, “ya know”, “like”, “hhmm” or any others? If you are in a swivel chair…do you swivel? Well this time our blog is about those nervous habits and the fact that you must not only be aware of them, but you must overcome them before the interview! As a career coach I talk to people every day about their non-verbal communication

We all have nervous habits that we do and never even think about unless someone brings them to our attention. Today I am here to tell you that you must do one of a couple of things…either ask someone close to you to tell you every time you do something physical without thinking about it or you must do a self-assessment and decide and discover those habits that give out nervous cues and could possibly sabotage an interview.

These 7 parts of non-verbal communication during an interview have been designed to assist you to learn how to portray yourself with the utmost confidence. You are making great eye contact, standing up straight and tall, and you have a great handshake that doesn’t break someone’s hand nor is it sloppy like a limp noodle so why would we let our nervous habits ruin our chances? Simple answer…because we don’t know that we are doing them!

I coach people to sit in front of a full length mirror while they practice interviewing, or have someone else pretend to be the interviewer and ask the questions while observing and listening, or set up a video camera and watch yourself after you are finished. All of these methods work and depending on who you are…one may work better than others. Sometimes I will get a shy client that doesn’t want anyone else they know watching them interview so the mirror or video is the better idea but other times I have someone that doesn’t like themselves on camera so the mirror or other person is the better option. This is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong way to practice (except to do it silently in your head…it must be done out loud and visually).

Think about it…if you are an interviewer and you are trying to listen to an answer and the person is constantly tapping their foot…do you think you will have trouble concentrating? The answer is probably yes. I had a client once that had a “click” pen with them and every time he/she got nervous the pen would start going “click, click, click, clickity click” and it was very distracting. That client had no idea that he/she was even clicking the pen until I said something so now my advice is…NEVER bring a “click” pen to an interview. You do want to have a pen and paper, just make sure it isn’t a pen that you must click the button on top to make it work. I have another good friend that is consistently using the palm of his hand to flatten his hair because it is just a nervous habit. He is aware that he has the nervous habit, but not aware when he is doing it! Do you play with a piece of jewelry? Maybe you are just spinning a ring around and around on your finger without ever noticing that you are doing it…the employer will notice. There might be different ways they will perceive the action…one might just see it as nervousness coming through but another might get so distracted that they miss your entire answer.  A nervous habit can ruin your chances of getting a job simply because the interviewer got distracted and missed a very important answer.

Take a very good long look at yourself using the eye of a critic and practice NOT “clicking the pen”, “playing with your ring or earring”, “tapping your feet”, “swiveling in your chair”, or whatever YOUR nervous movements might be!

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Non-verbal communication is still communication
You have made it to the interview and now you need to make a great impression. What are your nervous habits? Do you really sit as straight as you think you do? Are you making eye contact? Watching the clock? Read more to ensure you are communicating what you want... Career Blog

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“Loretta is a highly experienced and productive professional in the field of Workforce Development, Job Readiness, Career Counseling, Workshop Facilitation, and Job Search Preparation. I have worked with her closely for over six years, and she has consistently been a valuable, key resource in the employment community. For three of those years, she was at Napa Valley College as a resource specialist in their career center... 
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