Your pristine resume got you noticed and now you’re scheduled for an interview to that ideal position you’ve been waiting for.
On the day of your interview, you are confident your presentation is perfect and your first impression will be noticed and documented.
“BUT” the only thing you’re concerned about is your nervous mannerisms. They hold you back every single time.
Unfortunately your nervous mannerisms can reveal more about you than you’d like and most of the time we don’t even realise we’re doing them.
“In-turned feet might suggest you are insecure”
Whether they are conscious or not, repeated behaviours like batting your eyes, twisting your ring, scratching or touching your hair, may influence your audience (interviewer) more than you think. A lack of eye contact, may send a signal that you are not to be trusted or your hiding something.
“Interviewers look for sincerity and knowledge through appropriate eye contact”
The good news is that you can correct these unwanted mannerisms and behaviours although a lot of work and commitment by you needs to happen if you want to be successful. Awareness is the first step, but it is harder to tame those unwanted mannerisms when you are nervous.
Here are some tips:
Facing unwanted distracting Mannerisms
Once you’ve determined what you need to remove, perform role plays and practice speaking to an interviewer (friend/partner/hubby/wife) until the nervous gestures are no longer there. Practice is key!
Daniela Lehmann-Stein, who leads a human resources team in Germany, says that while she’s had interview training, she resists checklist-style thinking in which she mentally ticks off a box that says “no annoying quirks or mannerisms.” Instead, Lehmann-Stein, who has hired dozens of people during 17 years in HR roles in multinational companies, wants to get to know a candidate and see how the person handles the situation if something becomes distracting.
“Authenticity is very important”
“Authenticity is very import. If someone describes themselves as very open and then at the same time he or she is sitting in a very closed position, with shoulders and arms very tight to the body, then this would come across as a contradiction.” She says.
At the same time, Lehmann-Stein says she is often impressed when people openly address a physical reaction they may be having in a certain situation.
“Sometimes it is helpful to be aggressive about it. If I know that I get red spots on my face or neck when I’m nervous, and this concerns me, then I could address it and say, “Even though I am blushing now, I am not as easily shaken as It may seem. I have been able to demonstrate my resilience in various situations”. It may be helpful to address it and get it over with instead of thinking, “Oh, am I blushing now, do they see it?” Lehmann-Stein says.
“When quirks cannot be cloaked, try addressing them with a bit of humour”
Likewise, if that mannerism you have cannot be controlled, perhaps the best way to handle it is through humour, “I wish that candidates would be more authentic and more courageous in these regards,” says Lehmann-Stein. “It requires a certain degree of self-reflection in order to be able to present myself – quirks and all. If I know I have a tendency to bat my eyelids quickly, I can handle it in a humorous way.”
Where do nervous gestures come from?
Often they have a psychological origin. In other words, if you can identify the cause, you can minimise the unwanted mannerism. For instance, sometimes the cause is insecurity from not feeling prepared. Many have overcome this by being well prepared for the interview.
“Being prepared makes an enormous difference in your overall presentation when you are in the interview”
The overall impression you leave will most likely be stronger than the lingering memory of a particular mannerism. Your interviewer’s main concern isn’t how and why you rub your hands together frequently. It’s how you will represent the company with your complete package of talents and skills.
“Recruiters look at a candidate’s overall package of talents and skills”
What to be mindful of:
Watch those wandering eyes: Staring can make others feel awkward. But, equally, keep your eyes from wandering around the room. An interviewer may be looking for sincerity and knowledge through appropriate eye contact.
In the end, most decisions to hire someone are based on a wide range of factors and usually the candidate who was successful not only was brilliant in the technical skill they were after, but was good in personality and knew how to engage in small talk and understood how to manage people and communicate with charisma.
Here are some helpful tips:
Be prepared. Google "top interview questions" and practice your answers – don’t forget to include examples
Many find doing affirmations in front of a mirror, every day before an interview very helpful
Whilst you’re waiting to be interviewed, practice your deep breathing and during your interview take regular, very subtle, deep breathes if you feel you need to
Try focusing on making your audience feel comfortable rather than focusing on how you’re coming across
Don’t forget your posture – pull your shoulder’s back and notice how confident you will feel!