Thursday, January 31, 2013

Job Interviews: Part 3 - Personal Space!

Welcome back to our Small Essentials of Interviewing series!

So far, we've discussed hands and feet. Now we're going to talk about...

Part Three: Personal Space.

The room your body takes up during a job interview can speak volumes. We should mention right away that ideas of personal space are malleable. How close is too close? That may depend on the country or culture in which you live. In the U.S., we advise keeping a distance of at least 19 inches from another person. If that's hard to visualize, think of two people shaking hands, their arms bent at the elbow. That's about the distance you want to keep between you.

Like this:

Imagine that invisible bubble surrounding the other person and honor it. That applies not just to handshakes, but your body language during the interview itself. If you're sitting, avoid crossing your ankle over your other knee. If you've brought a bag, keep it on the floor close to your feet – don't spread your belongings in the office. It might take practice to recognize where your body and belongings are in the space around you, especially if you've spent most of your life wearing a heavy backpack, unaware when you bump into other people (or when people bump into you). But it's worth learning. When you observe others' personal space, you show that you are self-aware and self-confident. 

Next time, we'll talk about accessories!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Job Interviews: Part 2 - The Hands!

Welcome to Part 2 of The Small Essentials of Interviewing!

Last week’s post on job inteviews focused on your feet. Today, it's time to discuss...

Part Two: Hands.

No doubt about it, your hands will be noticed. You'll shake hands (with a firm, not crushing grip), of course. But your hands are also one of the most prominent methods of nonverbal communication. They can indicate nervous jitters—or confidence and calm. If you “talk with your hands,” try to reign in those gestures and use them only for emphasis, like an exclamation point. However, avoid the other extreme of hiding your hands in your pockets or behind your back. (Another pose to avoid: crossing your arms against your chest.)

Also, make sure your hands are clean and well-groomed, and don’t forget the fingernails! Women who love nail art: different jobs may allow for different kinds of polish, but you can’t go wrong with clean, healthy-looking nails. As for bracelets and rings, less is more, and choose bracelets that both compliment your outfit and do not make even the slightest noise.

Avoid fragrance on your hands. If you have dry hands, make sure your lotion is fragrance-free. If you have sweaty hands, you can actually put deodorant on them just for the interview—just be sure to wash your hands 30 minutes before the interview.

Come back for our next Interviewing Tip! We'll talk about personal space!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Job Interviews: Part 1 - The Shoes!

If you're not looking for a job, you probably know someone who is looking for a job! While it's essential to focus on your qualifications, the interview process is also influenced by smaller details that many forget about - the subtleties in your dress, the way you speak, whether you shake hands.

We're here to help! Welcome to our new 8-part series: 

The Small Essentials of Interviewing. 

Part One: Shoes.

"Think of an interview like a first date," says Chelsea Hanson, former ELI intern who is now working in marketing for Pipeline Machinery in Houston, Texas. The "first date" idea means being on your best behavior and wearing not only flattering clothing, but shoes that both look and feel good, she says.

For women, she recommends heels. "Heel height should be something you would wear to church, not what you would wear for a night on the town," says Hanson. "I personally wear heels that are a little taller than most, but I am also 5'2 and can walk in anything. If you are not your most stable in heels, rock some flats. Pretty leather or mildly patterned flats are 100 % appropriate."

For men, "Dress shoes are a must," she says. And "make sure your loafers or laceups have been to the shoe shine."

Checking out your shoes well in advance of the interview will give you time to take care of scuffs or worn heels. If you'd like to try shining shoes yourself, check out this GQ article first for inspiration.

Keep comfort in mind, as your interview might involve a lot of walking. "Most companies take you on a tour of their facilities," says Hanson. "This tour serves multiple purposes. It can show you the dynamics of the workplace, the types of technology they incorporate, and the people they employ. But most importantly, it helps you relax. Walking around keeps the conversation lighter and evokes more of a casual feeling. If your feet hurt, this will not only be uncomfortable for you, but also the person guiding you."

Your choice of footwear might seem inconsequential, but the right pair of shoes shows that you notice details, that you take care of yourself, that you like to bring your best self forward—all qualities valued in the workplace.

We'll be back again soon with another Interviewing Tip! Now that we've talked about your feet, next time we'll talk about your hands!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Fine Art of Hugging

We all need a little love and compassion, right? Hugs are a great way to convey that—sometimes.

Hugs have become the new handshake among many people, but it's always good to remember that in professional environments and other formal situations, you should stick to shaking hands. It's also good to remember that not every person is a "hugger" - that some people find hugs very uncomfortable and awkward. It's never wrong to ask "Can I hug you?" before going for it, and to break the hug off after a few seconds.

Different situations may call for different hugs:

The Side Hug: Extend one arm; the side of your body touches the other person's side. This  is appropriate for casual acquaintances; when hugging someone non-familial of the opposite sex; for counselors or teachers with children.

The Full/Front Hug: Wrap both arms around the person; this could easily become a bear hug. Good for loved ones—family, significant others, or close friends.

The Boy Hug - Really! This is the term we hear among our students, named for the kind of hug they see mostly among young boys and men. It's a very quick embrace in which only your lower arms extend to the other person's back, maybe followed by a little pat or slap on the back.