Fake One for the Team

Some people are seemingly born knowing how to win over potential employers. These men and women know how to flash the smile, shake the hand, nod at the right times, and land any position they go after. And then there are those who suffer through every job interview (and suffer is not too strong a word).

The first group has a handle on how to behave professionally, even if they actually have no clue as to what they’re doing in any other part of their career. The latter group either doesn’t know about playing the part or doesn’t put much stock in it. In fact, these people often feel that their unwillingness to go with the flow is what sets them apart from the other candidates and is the very thing that’s going to win them the position they’re after! Unfortunately, they’re often wrong.

When in Doubt, Conform

When you’re vying for an entry-level position in the corporate world, conformity is often your best shot at landing the job. Don’t worry—you’ll have plenty of time to make your mark once you’ve set up camp inside the company, but first you need to show the powers that be that you’re a team player. And every member of the team displays a few common characteristics through his body language.

In an extremely creative environment, where conformity is synonymous with poor job performance, it’s often wise to take the I’m-a-complete-original stance. In fact, the “interview” may be a look at your portfolio and an assessment of just how eccentric you’re capable of being.

When you sit down with an employer, you want to send the following unspoken messages:

• I’m interested in this company.

• I’m confident I can do this job well.

• I’m eager to be part of the team.

While it’s important to be articulate during your time in the hot seat, it’s just as important to back up your words with the correct gestures. You can tell your interviewer how confident you are, but if you’re gnawing at your fingernails while you’re saying it, you’re sending him a definite mixed message. Nail biting may be the thing you do to pass the time, but it’s perceived as a nervous habit.

Part of the message you want to convey with your body language is that this is where you plan on hanging your hat for the next several years (even if you have absolutely no intention of staying longer than six months). Companies don’t want to spend money training an employee who isn’t going to stay with them.

Slouching in your chair during an interview sends a message that you are small and not confident.
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