From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

December 2021
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Nonverbal Language in Interviews.
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 1:35 pm

Recently, I had a conversation with a person who has been
without a position for an extended period.  We had communicated
via email, where I learned she was obtaining interviews in the
tight job market for lawyers but not landing a position
.  This is
despite feeling quite good about a couple of the interviews.

She had visited her alumna placement office and met with various
people but it was clear there was a mismatch of expectations
in those encounters.  So, we set up an appointment to meet
and we outlined what we planned to do in the meeting. 
 - learn about several of the unsuccessful experiences
 - define clearly what her goal position would be
 - study and coach her interview approach in an informational
 - perform a mock interview and develop a muscle memory
of improved actions, behaviors and responses.

Much to my surprise, we met and began our conversation,
however, I did not feel she was able to relax and relate and
show confidence in her accomplishments.  She seemed
intent on defaulting to the differences she had with her
employer and being associated with his reputation.
   Body Language and Appearance
How was this revealed?  This was apparent from facial
expressions, slouching and orating
, rather than conversing.
She would speak with a lot of emotion using nonverbal
gestures of arms in closed and then pleading positions.
Legs were crossed at the knee, sitting deep in her seat
in an all too dependent position.

Generally, people in hiring positions will feel more
comfortable with people like themselves.  So, I asked
her to note my body positions and facial expressions.
Try to note and then reflect on my tendencies, for when we
mirror we are relating well and likely in agreement.  Non
similar behaviors alert the interviewer of disagreement and
perhaps a different mindset or goal. 

[This also relates to the desirability of a hair style that
does not fall into the eyes or tempt you to fiddle with
it during an interview.  Consider tie-back, barrette or bobby
pin or a light touch of hair spray.  Preventable tendency]

 Mirroring occurs at a preconscious level.  But in the
practice mode we need to make it conscious and
practice to build a certain “muscle memory.”

Although an interview is not an interrogation, it can sometimes
feel like this to an interviewee.  Early excitement which happens
frequently in interviews better serves the interviewee if it is
harnessed and directed to reveal excitement about the meeting
to fill a position.  It should also provide enthusiasm
in retelling stories that relate accomplishments and send
signals that the interviewee is confident, likeable and competent.

      Storytelling with a Goal in mind
We made our introductions in the mock interview and
explored some “what if” scenarios.  Then, we guided our
way into defining strengths and weaknesses.  This is
a very common self assessment direction.  Telling stories
helps us create an imprintable image for remembering.
We had her learn, practice and strengthen the S-A-R-I
acronym for story-telling:  Situation, Action,
Result, Implication.

Business card, taking notes, sending thank yous and
describing why you are no longer employed and what
you are currently doing were other areas of sharing,
coaching and practicing.

I told her I was pleased that she recognized she could
value and use some help and coaching.

One Response to “Nonverbal Language in Interviews.”

  1. site admin Says:

    Unfortunately, the legal profession seems to according
    to reports have reached a point of “weak demand and
    an oversupply”.

    Some offer stay in the mainstream of classes and take
    such options that truly interest you.

    Others propose unconventional course options with
    courses like, “The Law and …” Law school deans like
    F. Wu indicate the “future …is about people with
    multiple skill sets.”

    It is a difficult challenge with no easy directions.

    No wonder my legal mock interviewee was challenged.

    We should learn from people in this professional field

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