By Dr. Howard Gauthier
Jessica is nervously excited as she answers her cell phone. She knows that the caller is the chair of the athletics search committee. Jessica has been anticipating this call and she is hoping to be offered the job as the new compliance director at state university.
Ten days ago, state university brought Jessica to campus for her interview. She was the first of three candidates to visit campus, and she felt that the interview went well. Feedback from previous interviews was that Jessica didn’t have the best body language in social settings, and she was perceived as being insecure or distant. To improve her social skills Jessica began reading various articles and books in an attempt to improve her body language. In her research, she came across an article written by Melody Wilding entitled “7 Body Language Mistakes That Could Cost You the Promotion.” These seven mistakes include:
- Crossed Arms – When a person crosses their arms in a social setting, they are being perceived as cynical, distrustful and possibly angry. Instead of crossing your arms, you should keep your arms by your side and slightly in front of you. This helps you to come across as being confident.
- Smallness – When a person feels intimidated in a social setting, they tend to slouch or hunch their shoulders. This shrinking position is an indication that you are fearful, powerless, or even lack motivation. To counter this, you will need to be aware of your posture and make sure that you sit up straight and slightly lean forward. This will help you to come across as more confident and assure of yourself.
- Seeming Disinterested – Most of us have experienced a situation where we were speaking with a person in a social setting and their shoulders are angled away from us. This makes it seem as if the person is either disinterested or distracted. To show your interest, your shoulders should be angled so you are face-to-face with the interviewer. You should also very subtly mimic or mirror their gestures. This shows that you are engaged and aligned with them.
- Nervous Gestures – Make sure you don’t have any nervous gestures such as tapping your feet, touching your face, twirling your hair, or jiggling your leg. These are signs that you are nervous or bored. Be aware of these nervous gestures and catch yourself so you can refrain from these nervous habits.
- Eye Contact – Keeping eye contact with people is important. Not looking people in the eyes is a sign that you are insecure, and looking away when answering a question can be perceived as you’re not telling the truth. As you converse with people, the rule of thumb is that you should maintain eye contact 50-60% of the time. This shows that you are confident and certain. Too much eye contact can become uncomfortable or even perceived as a bit creepy.
- Smile – Smiling enhances your mood and makes others feel more comfortable around you. When interviewing, make sure you are upbeat and that you smile. A good rule of thumb is that you should start and end a conversation with a smile.
- Handshake – A good handshake is an important part of the interview process and it shows confidence. A good handshake is one that is not too hard or too light, and should match the level of firmness of the interviewer.
By understanding the importance of body language, you have an advantage in networking and interviewing sessions. Jessica learned these lessons, practiced them, and was hired as the new compliance director at state university.
Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!
Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University. He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach. He is also an author of 9 books. Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.sportscareersinstitute.com or his new book Execute for Success at www.execute4success.com.
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- Techniques and strategies to prepare for your interview
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“I have recommended this book to many aspiring sports administrators. A must read for anyone whom has a goal of working in athletic administration”
Director of Athletics
Sonoma State University