Nuts BoltsDo you seem to have all the qualifications but still feel like you lose out on too many job opportunities? Have you checked your performance on the details? Given the competition for jobs it is often the non-verbals that trip us up. Use this checklist to help you prepare to present a professional image so the focus can be on your capabilities and how they fit with the job’s requirements.
The Nuts and Bolts Check List:
1. Do you know the dress expectations in the organization you are interviewing with? While your view may be that you are a short-term hire and what you wear shouldn’t matter anyway, the way you look and how different it is from their norm can be a signal that you won’t fit easily into the work situation. Use your network – do you know someone who has worked in the company or called on them? Does your staffing rep know what the everyday dress expectations might be?
2. Are you neat and clean and well rested? Again, you may not believe that the details of how you look should be important but they often are. Sloppy and Sleepy are not the names of workers.
3. Make sure you smell fresh – don’t smoke after you put on your interview clothes because people who don’t smoke have become increasingly sensitive to the smell. Also, don’t wear overpowering perfume or after shave. This too can turn people off.
4. Don’t chew gum during an interview and don’t bring a beverage with you into the interview. Obviously if you are offered a beverage, you can accept but don’t make assumptions by appearing with one in your hand.
5. Shaking hands can signal negative things about you which may or may not be true. Think about your hand-shake: Is it limp? Do you not extend your entire hand? Is it overly tight? Do you tend to hold for more than a few shakes? Practice so that your shake becomes firm and positive and lasts for the duration of one or two positive shakes.
6. Manage your voice so that the volume is neither too loud nor too soft.
7. Do you have nervous habits such as talking too much or not talking at all or blinking your eyes often or fidgeting with your tie? Learn to curb these signs of nervousness that detract from what you are saying. Not sure what to do with your hands? Bring a pen and pad with you and use them to keep your hands and arms occupied however, don’t repeatedly click your pen.
8. Do you keep eye contact with the person interviewing you? Not keeping eye contact in our culture signals untrustworthiness.
9. Don’t interrupt the interviewer – wait respectfully and make sure you understand his/her whole statement before responding. If you don’t understand the question, ask them to “say more” about the situation.
10. Turn off your phone.
For those who do not do well with checklists – envision yourself to be a calm and collected professional, someone this organization would want on their team as long as your capabilities fit with their needs. That is why you are there: to discover through their questions and yours whether you can do the job for them. Don’t let the details of your personal presentation erode your impact!

Sally Power, Ph.D. is a writer, researcher, and personal consultant accelerating successful career transitions.

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