Interview Practice: A Perfect Summer Activity

By Lori Jazvac.

Now that summer is in full swing, it’s the perfect time to supplement your client’s resume package with interview role-play sessions. Interview practice now will position your client to secure a rewarding role in the fall.

While there are different styles of interviewing, behavioural or situational interviews are quite common. They are actually designed to elicit clear, detailed, and specific responses to questions about what action the candidate would take, or how they would react, in a specific scenario. Hiring managers make decisions based on predefined performance indicators, which often demonstrate the candidate’s aptitude for the job.

As a Certified Employment Strategist, I have coached diverse clients to transition into different roles. Clients typically have difficulty tackling challenging interview questions and demonstrating their unique value. However, after an in-depth interview coaching session where they practice hypothetical scenarios using the Situation-Action-Result (SAR) Method, clients can articulate their strengths and offerings. The SAR Method provides a simple structure for demonstrating behavioural-based attributes and all-important results using the client’s own career experiences.

The Power of Body Language in Interviewing

It is not enough for candidates to master the basics of interviewing; they must essentially understand the psychology of interviewing. The way that a candidate conducts him or herself in an interview sends out powerful unconscious signals. These non-verbal communication signals reveal messages about a candidate’s emotional intelligence, genuine interest in the position, and most importantly, whether he or she can truly deliver the solid results indicated in the resume.

A professional with greater charisma, but fewer skills and qualifications, may be more likely to secure a job offer than a less confident one who is highly qualified for the position. Why?

Body language such as facial expressions, hand gestures, posture, and reactions can make or break your client’s interview.

Negative thoughts produce anxiety, which can spur the onset of discomforting emotions and communicate mixed signals to the employer. Indeed, body language can be difficult to control if the candidate is not aware and even more difficult when anxiety lingers. When anxiety is channeled properly, it can increase alertness and propel your client to provide his or her best responses in the interview.

Here are four positive interview-specific body language tips to share with your clients:

  • When interviewing, encourage your client to sit upright, positioned all the way back in the seat rather than slouching. This posture conveys confidence and self-assurance. By leaning in slightly while speaking, your client can show engagement and interest.
  • Advise your client to not fidget or hide his or her hands as this may reflect untrustworthy behaviour. To combat this, your client could occasionally use light hand gestures with open palms to communicate trustworthiness, engagement, and focus when emphasizing certain points.
  • Encourage your client to make eye contact to communicate interest and engagement, but not to the point that it is constant as it can be uncomfortable for the interviewer. Also, remind your client to nod the head occasionally to show agreement and acknowledgment, which is important for making a good impression and building rapport.
  • Finally, suggest that the client keep both feet firmly planted on the ground rather than crossing legs, which will enhance focus and communication while reducing blood pressure.

Have your clients conduct a short breathing exercise and use positive visualization and short yoga techniques to practice mindfulness and reduce stress before the interview. For example, ask your client to take 10 or more deep breaths by inhaling for four seconds, holding for one second, exhaling for four seconds, holding, and repeating.

Coaching your clients to treat the interviewing process as a constructive learning experience will shift the mindset from fear to empowerment, while enhancing interviewing skills.

Consider taking the Employment Interview Coaching course by Career Professionals of Canada to position your clients for their next career milestone.

Photo: CPC Member, Lori Jazvac.

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