Friday, June 17, 2011

preparing for an interview: body language

My 4th year of teaching, the teacher next to me retired. She had been teaching in the district her whole career and was a fantastic teacher. She was certainly going to be missed. Hiring her replacement was a big job, and I was fortunate to be a part of it. We interviewed 6 candidates, one who had been a sub in the building after she graduated in December. She hadn't been a particularly standout sub, but we knew her and were happy to give her an interview.

But when she came in for her interview, she behaved as though she already had the job. She leaned back casually in the chair. She picked at her fingernails and didn't look at us. Her answers were short and not very thoughtful. In the end we believed she didn't take the interview very seriously and went with someone else - a teacher still there today who is one of the strongest in the school. The long-term sub was really upset not to get the job, but we wanted someone who would take working in our school seriously, and she didn't seem to be that person. Perhaps she was just nervous, but regardless, she wasn't the strongest candidate. And her body language had a lot to do with it.

You really can make or break an interview by how you act. You can behave confidently without arrogance. Show this through eye contact, a firm handshake, and open posture (no crossed arms). Be careful of the nervous habits you may have - playing with your hair, scratching your arm, picking at or biting your nails, cracking your knuckles, wringing your hands. These actions convey nerves and uneasiness. Of course you'll be nervous, but you want to make sure that the interview committee is listening to what you say, not watching what your body language is telling them. Oh, and that reminds me - don't tell the committee you are nervous. I've seen it happen. It just isn't professional to tell the committee you are nervous. Again, of course you are if you are taking this interview seriously. But it will leave an impression that you don't want to last.

Next post: a few more tips

Reference: Warner, J. & Bryan, C. (2006). Inside secrets of finding a teaching job (3rd Ed.). Indianapolis, IN: JIST Publishing.

What are some of the nervous habits you'll be working to avoid during interviews?


Post a Comment