By: Samuel Garcia, Workshop Facilitator
Two important elements at job interviews, as in any interaction with an employer, are information management and image management. Both must present a clear and consistent message: I can do the job. I fit in.
Employers expect clear, targeted information delivered concisely and confidently. A warm pleasant smile, for example, can immediately break the ice and facilitate a positive connection. Posture, eye contact, facial expressions, and hand gestures are just a few of the ways we transmit messages to others about ourselves.
Most people we meet instinctively try to establish eye contact. However, breaking eye contact too quickly, especially in a job interview situation, could be interpreted as trying to hide something or dishonesty. Holding eye contact too long could be considered rude, aggressive or disrespectful behavior.
There is some correlation between eye contact and intimacy. Generally, the stronger the personal relationship, the longer one can comfortably maintain eye contact. There is no established rule on eye contact except that we must read the other person carefully and respectfully for clues as to how long to hold the eye contact before looking away.
Slouching on a chair will quickly earn disfavor. Leaning back could be interpreted as is tired, lazy or, perhaps, arrogant. Leaning too far forward could be seen as aggressive. It is best to maintain good posture by sitting upright in a neutral position or leaning slightly forward to demonstrate interest and attentiveness.
What to do with the hands! Fold them? Place one on top of the other? Hide them under the table? Perhaps resting your hands on the table in a relaxed position may be a good solution. A few slight hand gestures could be effective in emphasizing points of verbal communication. It is, probably, best to avoid fast or exaggerated hand movements such as pointing, or waving with your arms, which could be seen as distracting or aggressive.
Crossing the Arms
People tend to interpret crossed arms as indicating the person is closed or unapproachable, while the arms opened at one’s sides tend to say you are open and approachable. It’s probably best not to cross one’s arms while speaking with an employer or at a job interview.
Looking around the room while someone is talking to you could cause a disconnect or give the impression your are disinterested in what the other person is saying. Excessive nodding can also be distracting. One nod, or perhaps two, showing agreement should be adequate as would also be the case when shaking the head in slight disagreement.
Nervous fidgeting can be interpreted in many ways: Unfortunately, none of them very positive. Fidgeting is distracting and makes one appear unprepared or lacking confidence. Don’t fidget! Some folks try to conceal nervous fidgeting by hiding their hands behind their backs. It doesn’t work. Besides, it places ones body in an awkward posture which appears unnatural and less than flattering.
Mismatched Facial Expressions
Slapstick comedy and satire often use mismatched facial expressions and tone of voice/ words for added effect. It doesn’t work at job interviews. Saying you are passionate about something in a dry, monotone voice could send mixed messages, for example.
Mock interviewing is a great way to practice and receive constructive feedback. Do it often, stay sharp and focused and you will be better prepared to ace that job interview.
These are just some of the major non-verbal cues that are widely addressed. What other body language signals did we miss? Do you have any stories about how body language affect your perception of the person? Tell us in the comments below!
Being rejected after a job interview can hurt your confidence. However, while not pleasant, rejection can be blown out of proportion and viewed as a sign of failure. By thinking objectively, you can use it to build core strengths, address areas requiring improvement and better targeting jobs that are a better match.
A good first step is to write a Thank You letter for their professional courtesy to notify you of their decision even though you were not selected. Thank them for their time and hospitality throughout the process. Let them know that, while disappointed, you appreciate the opportunity to learn more about the company and to meet some of the staff. Tell them you remain interested in for their organization and that you would appreciate them contacting you next time a job opportunity becomes available for which you might qualify.
Take note of what you learned throughout the company’s hiring process. While not often possible, try to get feedback on how you might improve your candidacy for future jobs with that company or other employers in general.
Be More Selective
The job market is more competitive today than ever. That means that you should be more selective about where you apply, ensuring that you are a good match, and being very specific about the skills and qualifications you bring to the table. Employers want to know your benefits and there is not better way to do that than by providing examples of results and achievements performing the same key skills they value in previous employment situations.
Address the issues
One of the most common reasons for being turned down is a lack of technical knowledge. To improve in this area, you may adapt your answers for technical questions with more precision or pursue further education or training to bolster your qualifications. Whenever possible, get feedback from the company, headhunter or whoever referred you to the job opportunity.
Another common reason for rejection is presenting poorly at the job interview. Make sure your job interview skills are polished and practice out loud with a coach or even a friend before each job interview. Remember: Employers hire people they like because they have demonstrated that they can do the job and that they fit in.
It is helpful to write down as many of the job interview question that was asked immediately after the interview while they are still fresh in your mind. Make notes of how you answered each question to help figure out what worked and what didn’t. Record any impressions/messages you received from the interviewer(s) through facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, gestures, etc. If you pay close attention to such signals, you may be able to gain greater knowledge than what they may be willing to provide verbally after the fact.
Platform to Employment (P2E) is an innovative, nationally recognized initiative that focuses on the need for long-term unemployed (LTU) individuals to return to work and employers’ need to build a strong workforce. First launched in 2011 by The WorkPlace in Connecticut, the P2E 2013 program in San Diego offered LTU individuals intensive and comprehensive training, and employers the opportunity to evaluate P2E participants as potential employees risk-free.
In 2013, SDWP enrolled 24 participants in its P2E pilot program:
- 92% successfully completed training
- 82% were placed in subsidized employment
- 100% were hired on full-time
AJCC Business Service Representative Patricia Devereaux shared a success story from one P2E participant with whom she worked.
“Madeline, a Platform to Employment program participant, was a discouraged mature worker. Years of a brutal job market and endless job applications had left her frustrated and fearful about the future. We began with changing those attitudes through consistent focus on the possibility of a better future. Once Madeline truly realized and believed that she could succeed, we were able to concentrate on playing to her strengths and applying only to positions that matched her administrative skill set.
“Madeline had wisely kept those skills current during her unemployment by taking several San Diego continuing education courses. A more hopeful attitude and recent P2E job-readiness skills training made Madeline more likely to earn the employment we longed for. She was also excellent at staying in touch and responding to all job leads. I knew we were working well together and on the same page when I sent Madeline a job lead to review and she told me she had already applied for it—an opening as an administrative assistant at The Daily Transcript newspaper.
“Knowing how ‘the personal touch’ can make a difference to employers, prior to Madeline’s interview, I stopped by The Daily Transcript to drop off information about the San Diego Metro Region Career Centers and the P2E Program, especially the employer wage-subsidy opportunity. Guess what? Madeline was hired just a few days after she applied, and given the job permanently before the end of the wage subsidy period! Madeline reports that she is enjoying her work and doing well.”
P2E offers three prongs of service:
- Coaching and facilitation: Workshops conducted four days a week for five weeks, including work-readiness counseling, skills assessment, interview preparation and self-marketing.
- Employee assistance services and family support: The opportunity to meet with counselors for financial literacy training and behavioral health services.
- Subsidized employment opportunities: P2E works closely with participants to match them with employers. P2E enables employers to have a risk-free evaluation of participants during a subsidized work experience.
For more information about the program, read “Long-term unemployed ready to work” from the U-T San Diego.
If you have questions about P2E or are interested in funding P2E, please contact SDWP President & CEO Peter Callstrom at 619-228-2906.
Note: We are not currently recruiting for a new class of P2E participants. Please check back for updates about future classes.
On September 30, 2013, the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) News headlined “Open – Bank of America Merrill Lynch Career Center, reporting, “The new San Diego Central Library…offers free career development services to job seekers…made possible through a $400,000 donation from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.”
On the 5th floor, the CDL (Central Downtown Library) site is managed by KRA Corporation for the SDWP as a satellite of its multi-site San Diego Metro Region Career Centers operation, providing individual and small-group career counseling, job-skills training, and specialized services for Veterans and bilingual customers. Job-Readiness Workshops (JRW) offer computer orientation, resume development, interview skills, and other classes to prepare jobseekers for the workplace.
Mary Jo Asuncion supervises the CDL site, reporting , “Our Career Agents make finding a job, or transitioning careers, a more successful experience for our jobseekers. In addition to weekdays, we are open the first Saturday of each month for customers unable to visit us during the week.
We are averaging more than 40 customer-visits a day, so we increased our original JRW schedule from every-other-Friday to every day! Business, for both our jobseeker- and employer-customers, is booming, and we look forward to another productive year—and beyond!”
Ryan walked into the South Metro Career Center in January 2014 with an uplifting and very pleasant demeanor about him. As he began a conversation with a one of the center’s career agents, Ryan expressed that he had some concerns as to whether he would be able to find employment due to his recent reentry after serving time in prison. The agent provided Ryan information about the center’s services and agreed to become a member saying, “Shoot, what do I have to lose?”
As soon as Ryan became a member, he hit the ground running, attending workshop after workshop and spending time in the center looking for work. One day, Ryan’s career agent, Vonnie Davis, asked if he would be interested in a training program. With his interest in culinary training, he did some research on the Eligible Training Provider List and found training offered through the National Culinary & Bakery School.
Davis and Ryan continued working together to get his life back on track. Ryan had no problem doing anything Davis requested to advance his career planning. He was approved for an Individual Training Account (ITA) to attend culinary school starting in March 2014 and from then on, he could see that he had another chance in life. Ryan excitedly called Davis on July 10, 2014, to tell her that he would graduate the next day—and that he would love for her to attend. She happily accepted the invitation.
With all the barriers that Ryan faced before coming to the South Metro Career Center, Davis says he never gave up and she always knew that he would succeed. “I’m so excited to see Ryan blossom into an enthusiastic young man,” she says, “He trusted in our program and our program WORKED!”
Ryan is working in the culinary field.
Article Source from San Diego Workforce Partnership: http://workforce.org/news/ryan-finds-culinary-career-path-help-ajcc
We just published a blog about a New York senator trying to live off minimum wage and found it difficult if not humbling to experience the hardships that workers on minimum wage experience.
Well, San Diego has decided to join this trend to prove a point that minimum wage needs to be increased. According to the news article here (http://www.sandiego6.com/news/local/Living-off-minimum-wage-for-one-week-273854591.html)
“San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria challenged himself, along with other San Diego residents, to try and survive off the bare minimum. Gloria started the “Live the Wage Challenge” on Wednesday for one week to convey how difficult it is to live off the current minimum wage pay rate.”
That’s great that there are people out there experience the hardships that many American’s, especially San Diegan’s are experiencing but what happens afterwards?
Not that I am against these causes, its great that they are being brought to the forefront of the American conscience but at what point does these challenges start making a difference than a thing that people do for entertainment purposes. Awareness is one factor in making a challenge successful, the other is impact. If there was no impact or change concluded from the challenge than what was the purpose of the challenge?
As San Diegians partake in the “Living the Wage Challenge”, I hope they will take their experiences, turn them into learning opportunities and take their newfound knowledge and take action in creating positive change.
For the past few months, the news has been covering the issue of raising the minimum wage to support the people have a sustainable livelihood. The Department of Labor currently has the minimum wage at $7.25 an hour and in California itself, minimum wage is $9.00 to reflect the high price of living in the sunshine state.
Each state has their own minimum wage cap but what about those states that do not adjust the wage to the living cost?
There are many basic needs that people living on minimum wage cannot afford and sometimes there are hard decisions that have to be made such as whether to put food on the table or pay for rent. This is not living, this is struggle. One woman, a Representative from Chicago challenged herself and her husband to live a $7.25 wage for a week and within a short amount of time realized that it was nearly impossible to live on this wage.
Read more about her experience and the 8 Lessons I Learned Living on Minimum Wage