Saturday, June 30, 2012

Job Seekers, Do You Have Interview ‘Curb Appeal’?


“If the eyes are windows to the soul, and the mouth is the door, then the ears are the path that lead to the core.” ~ M. Salvino

Participating in an interview as the interviewee is akin to showing your ‘soon to be sold’ home to the highest bidder.  If you take the time to ‘stage’ your home properly, the sale will go much faster and you are likely to get a higher price than if you did not ‘stage’ your home at all.  All good real estate agents will tell you that one of the key elements necessary to help ensure the sale of your home is if your home has good ‘curb appeal’.

Now that you have an interested ‘buyer’, i.e. you have been called in for an interview, it’s time to start selling!  Know that there is no 'correct' or 'incorrect' method to sell anything.  Some professional slaespeople prefer to use a ‘hard sell’ approach while others prefer the ‘soft sell’ approach.  The style used to sell is a personal preference.  Regardless of the selling style, successful candidates have mastered the following key components to ‘close the deal’.

The Power of Great Eye Contact
All good salespeople know that people buy from people who are deemed charismatic.  Good eye contact is a critical tool in creating a charismatic impression when you speak - either one-on-one or one-to-many, as would be the case during a panel interview.  When charismatic speakers present, every person in the room feels that their comments are directed towards them personally.  When they speak, they hold our attention. Good eye contact plays a critical role in creating this impact.

Why using your eyes is so critical
Failing to make eye contact with others sends a variety of messages depending upon the relationship between the two people in question. Failing to let others see your eyes can send a message that you are shy and lacking in self-confidence. 

In North America, a lack of eye contact is most often interpreted as dishonesty, untrustworthiness, evasion, nervousness, lack of interest or shiftiness.  On the flip side, those who can maintain eye contact make a longer lasting and more positive impression of self-confidence, honesty and trustworthiness.

How to make positive eye contact one-one-one
When you’re being introduced to someone new look them in the eyes as you’re given their names and, as you grasp their hands in a firm handshake, hold that contact and smile with both your lips and your eyes. Then, as you continue to speak with them, maintain comfortable eye contact. Be careful not to stare fixedly; be sure to break away from their eyes every three to five seconds. A good strategy to avoid staring is to choose a few different spots to focus upon around the other person’s general facial area. It sounds peculiar but the overall impression is one of good eye contact without any uncomfortable staring effect. 

Hint #1: Make your eye transitions smoothly.  Don’t look like you’re scanning their face from left to right like the carriage in an old fashioned typewriter, or bobbing your head up and down like one of those novelty nodding animals you see on the back windows of automobiles.  The transitions must be smooth and natural.

Hint #2: You should aim to be in direct eye contact somewhere between 70-80% of the time – any less and the interviewer will believe that you are less than interested, and any more will make you appear too intense.  This punctuation, with breaks every few seconds, avoids an excessively probing or aggressive impression and prevents you from deteriorating into an uncomfortable stare.

Hint #3: If a group or panel of people is interviewing you, strive to make direct eye contact with every member of the panel and ensure that your direct eye contact begins and ends with the person who posed the question.

Learn from those around you – and from the pros
To master eye contact watch how the pros do it.  Carefully watch your favourite TV interviewer or speaker, become a student of the way he or she communicates, and then emulate it.  How do they make a strong point, how do they express agreement or disagreement, create rapport, express surprise and so on?

When you make a point of creating better eye contact, you will soon see how it warms up your relationships and contacts and they become more attentive and receptive to what you are saying.

Please let me know if you found this post useful and/or worth sharing with your friends and colleagues.

Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog authored by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career that is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. This blog is also dedicated to those who stand a little taller each time they picked themselves up after failing and those who gained the wisdom and humility from those experiences to help others do the same. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at