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How to Make Interviewers Think You’re Smart? Read Their Minds from How They Act

How to Make Interviewers Think You’re Smart? Read Their Minds from How They Act

When it comes to interviews, words are considered the most important part of the interview process. How we convey ourselves through words in response to the interviewer’s questions can make or break our chances of getting the job.

But what about body language? Often we’re so nervous or focused on how we get our credentials across in the best way possible, that we don’t always pick up on the subtle signals from the interviewer that gives away crucial information. Using the interviewer’s body language to your benefit can up your chances of landing that job.

Interview Is the Arena for You to Demonstrate How Personable You Are

As mentioned before, what we say in an interview is important in order to inform the interviewer of your suitability for the role. But what’s equally important is how personable we are in terms of how we come across.

It can be easy to adopt a ‘them and me’ mentality where we see the interviewer across the table as a machine we have to convince to hire us – void of any human thought or perspective but of course this isn’t true. Interviewers do have their preferences and biases to a certain degree when it comes to the type of person you come across as.

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This is why creating a smooth and pleasant interview can really get you ahead of other candidates because this, in effect, is showing them you are someone likeable and agreeable to work together with. As humans, we automatically seek out those who are amiable and make us feel comfortable.

And, of course, we all prefer working with people who can easily understand what we mean and and convey a relevant corresponding response.

The More You Can Decode the Interviewer’s Body Language, the More You’re Able to Turn Threats into Opportunities

Our own body language is extremely important in interviews but how much attention do you pay to the interviewer’s?

Reading the positive body language that interviewers give off – usually smiling and nodding as you give your answer and as a reaction to how you’re behaving – is pretty easy. However, trying to decode negative body language is where it can start to get tricky.

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For starters, any negative body language we do pick up on, can send us into a worrying and negative mindset making us think the interview maybe isn’t going as well as we thought. But what’s worse is misunderstanding what the negative body language means causing us to correct ourselves in the wrong way. This can then give off the wrong signals and may even sabotage the interview.

The reality is that interviews rarely go completely smoothly and in fact it can be a perfect test if you have the ability to turn, what seems like a negative, into an opportunity. This is why being able to decode body language more effectively will help you more with landing the job.

Common Negative Body Language and How to React Well to It

Here is some common body language from interviewers that could be interpreted as negative and the best course of action to take to make a good impact.

Raised Eyebrows

When someone raises their eyebrows it’s usually interpreted by the other person as having said something surprising or questionable. If the interviewer does this you should stop what you’re saying and clarify your point before they have to ask.

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Not Making Eye Contact

If they’ve been making good eye contact up to this point (ruling out the possibility of having difficulty with eye contact) it’s usually a sign that they’re losing interest. Here you should either get to the point more quickly or change the strategy of answering the question.

Tapping on the Desk or Fidgeting

This is a sign that they are aware of time restraints so either they feel time is running out or the end of the interview is approaching. Use this to your advantage by taking the opportunity to add any extra qualities you want to highlight (as long as they are in context).

They Stop Taking Notes

It can be disconcerting when you notice that they’ve stopped writing down what you’re saying and usually it is a sign that your answer may not be satisfactory enough. When this happens, make sure you end your point as quickly as possible and begin another one. It may also be better to try a different approach.

Always Enter an Interview With a Positive Mindset

Remember, decoding body language can be subjective. While the interviewer may well be giving away what they’re thinking, for many it’s an intentional way to see how well you react under pressure. But don’t let this put you off – if you maintain a positive mindset throughout and be aware of possible negative signs then you will be more relaxed in dealing with them.

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If indeed they are testing you, reacting in a calm and confident manner is the way to show them you aren’t flustered or easily put off.

By adopting this positive mindset:

  • You realise that you shouldn’t expect to get every question right. Much of the time, the interviewer may not fully know the answer themselves or they’re more interested in your thought processes. So stay calm and relaxed even if you feel you’ve answered incorrectly.
  • You will be less likely to judge yourself harshly or put pressure on yourself to perform perfectly. This will allow the interview to flow in a more natural state and let the interviewer see you in a more personable way rather than in complete interview mode.
  • You will be more confident in realising that the interview is just as much for you as it is for them. Asking questions to gather more information for yourself will not only benefit you, but allow a better and more natural interaction during the interview.
  • You will realise that not all interviewers are prepared and often aren’t especially trained in interviewing. If you keep this in mind, even if the interviewer is very professional, it will stop you from developing that sense of inferiority.
  • You will be more likely to maintain enthusiasm which goes a long way when shown at the right times during an interview.

So next time you enter the interview room, be aware of negative body language, stay calm and react accordingly. Be positive and be personable – this is what interviewers are always looking for, if not to see if you’re a good fit, then definitely on a subconscious level. Good luck!

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2019

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

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You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

“While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

4. Good leaders are students.

In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

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As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

“As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

6. Good leaders understand themselves.

I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

Final Thoughts

Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

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Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

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Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
[2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

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