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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 September 30, 2019

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

Minutes are a written record of a board, company, or organizational meeting. Meeting minutes are considered a legal document, so when writing them, strive for clarity and consistency of tone.

Because minutes are a permanent record of the meeting, be sure to proofread them well before sending. It is a good idea to run them by a supervisor or seasoned attendee to make sure statements and information are accurately captured.

The best meeting minutes takers are careful listeners, quick typists, and are adequately familiar with the meeting topics and attendees. The note taker must have a firm enough grasp of the subject matter to be able to separate the important points from the noise in what can be long, drawn-out discussions. And, importantly, the note taker should not simultaneously lead and take notes. (If you’re ever asked to do so, decline.)

Following, are some step-by-step hints to effectively write meeting minutes:

1. Develop an Agenda

Work with the Chairperson or Board President to develop a detailed agenda.

Meetings occur for a reason, and the issues to be addressed and decided upon need to be listed to alert attendees. Work with the convener to draft an agenda that assigns times to each topic to keep the meeting moving and to make sure the group has enough time to consider all items.

The agenda will serve as your outline for the meeting minutes. Keep the minutes’ headings consistent with the agenda topics for continuity.

2. Follow a Template from Former Minutes Taken

If you are new to a Board or organization, and are writing minutes for the first time, ask to see the past meeting minutes so that you can maintain the same format.

Generally, the organization name or the name of the group that is meeting goes at the top: “Meeting of the Board of Directors of XYZ,” with the date on the next line. After the date, include both the time the meeting came to order and the time the meeting ended.

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Most groups who meet do so regularly, with set agenda items at each meeting. Some groups include a Next Steps heading at the end of the minutes that lists projects to follow up on and assigns responsibility.

A template from a former meeting will also help determine whether or not the group records if a quorum was met, and other items specific to the organization’s meeting minutes.

3. Record Attendance

On most boards, the Board Secretary is the person responsible for taking the meeting minutes. In organizational meetings, the minutes taker may be a project coordinator or assistant to a manager or CEO. She or he should arrive a few minutes before the meeting begins and pass around an attendance sheet with all members’ names and contact information.

Meeting attendees will need to check off their names and make edits to any changes in their information. This will help as both a back-up document of attendees and ensure that information goes out to the most up-to-date email addresses.

All attendees’ names should be listed directly below the meeting name and date, under a subheading that says “Present.” List first and last names of all attendees, along with title or affiliation, separated by a comma or semi-colon.

If a member of the Board could not attend the meeting, cite his or her name after the phrase: “Copied To:” There may be other designations in the participants’ list. For example, if several of the meeting attendees are members of the staff while everyone else is a volunteer, you may want to write (Staff) after each staff member.

As a general rule, attendees are listed alphabetically by their last names. However, in some organizations, it’s a best practice to list the leadership of the Board first. In that case, the President or Co-Presidents would be listed first, followed by the Vice President, followed by the Secretary, and then by the Treasurer. Then all other names of attendees would be alphabetized by last name.

It is also common practice to note if a participant joined the meeting via conference call. This can be indicated by writing: “By Phone” and listing the participants who called in.

4. Naming Convention

Generally, the first time someone speaks in the meeting will include his or her name and often the title.

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For example, “President of the XYZ Board, Roger McGowan, called the meeting to order.” The next time Roger McGowan speaks, though, you can simply refer to him as “Roger.” If there are two Rogers in the meeting, use an initial for their last names to separate the two. “Roger M. called for a vote. Roger T. abstained.”

5. What, and What Not, to Include

Depending on the nature of the meeting, it could last from one to several hours. The attendees will be asked to review and then approve the meeting minutes. Therefore, you don’t want the minutes to extend into a lengthy document.

Capturing everything that people say verbatim is not only unnecessary, but annoying to reviewers.

For each agenda item, you ultimately want to summarize only the relevant points of the discussion along with any decisions made. After the meeting, cull through your notes, making sure to edit out any circular or repetitive arguments and only leave in the relevant points made.

6. Maintain a Neutral Tone

Minutes are a legal document. They are used to establish an organization’s historical record of activity. It is essential to maintain an even, professional tone. Never put inflammatory language in the minutes, even if the language of the meeting becomes heated.

You want to record the gist of the discussion objectively, which means mentioning the key points covered without assigning blame. For example, “The staff addressed board members’ questions regarding the vendor’s professionalism.”

Picture a lawyer ten years down the road reading the minutes to find evidence of potential wrongdoing. You wouldn’t want an embellishment in the form of a colorful adverb or a quip to cloud any account of what took place. Here’s a list of neutral sounding words to get started with.

7. Record Votes

The primary purpose of minutes is to record any votes a board or organization takes. Solid record-keeping requires mentioning which participant makes a motion — and what the motion states verbatim — and which participant seconds the motion.

For example, “Vice President Cindy Jacobsen made a motion to dedicate 50 percent, or $50,000, of the proceeds from the ZZZ Foundation gift to the CCC scholarship fund. President Roger McGowan seconded the motion.”

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This vote tabulation should be expressed in neutral language as well. “The Board voted unanimously to amend the charter in the following way,” or “The decision to provide $1,000 to the tree-planting effort passed 4 to 1, with Board President McGowan opposing.”

Most Boards try to get a vote passed unanimously. Sometimes in order to help the Board attain a more cohesive outcome, a Board member may abstain from voting. “The motion passed 17 to 1 with one absension.”

8. Pare down Notes Post-Meeting

Following the meeting, read through your notes while all the discussions remain fresh in your mind, and make any needed revisions. Then, pare the meeting minutes down to their essentials, providing a brief account of the discussion that summarizes arguments made for and against a decision.

People often speak colloquially or in idioms, as in: “This isn’t even in the ballpark” or “You’re beginning to sound like a broken record.” While you may be tempted to keep the exact language in the minutes to add color, resist.

Additionally, if any presentations are part of the meeting, do not include information from the Powerpoint in the minutes. However, you will want to record the key points from the post-presentation discussion.

9. Proofread with Care

Make sure that you spelled all names correctly, inserted the correct date of the meeting, and that your minutes read clearly.

Spell out acronyms the first time they’re used. Remember that the notes may be reviewed by others for whom the acronyms are unfamiliar. Stay consistent in headings, punctuation, and formatting. The minutes should be polished and professional.

10. Distribute Broadly

Once approved, email minutes to the full board — not just the attendees — for review. Your minutes will help keep those who were absent apprised of important actions and decisions.

At the start of the next meeting, call for the approval of the minutes. Note any revisions. Try to work out the agreed-upon changes in the meeting, so that you don’t spend a huge amount of time on revisions.

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Ask for a motion to approve the minutes with the agreed-upon changes. Once an attendee offers a motion, ask for another person in the meeting to “second” the motion. They say, “All approved.” Always ask if there is anyone who does not approve. Assuming not, then say: “The minutes from our last meeting are approved once the agreed-upon changes have been made.”

11. File Meticulously

Since minutes are a legal document, take care when filing them. Make sure the file name of the document is consistent with the file names of previously filed minutes.

Occasionally, members of the organization may want to review past minutes. Know where the minutes are filed!

One Caveat

In this day and age of high technology, you may ask yourself: Wouldn’t it be simpler to record the meeting? This depends on the protocols of the organization, but probably not.

Be sure to ask what the rules are at the organization where you are taking minutes. Remember that the minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said at the meeting.

The minutes reflect decisions not discussions. In spite of their name, “minutes,” the minutes are not a minute-by-minute transcript.

Bottom Line

Becoming an expert minutes-taker requires a keen ear, a willingness to learn, and some practice, but by following these tips you will soon become proficient.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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