What The Presidential Debate Can Teach Us About Interviewing

Now that the first presidential debate is a thing of the past and out of our minds (yeah, right) it seems safe to tackle the debate performance of President Obama and Governor Romney. To begin with, I am not taking sides here. The point I am going to make has nothing to do with what either of the men said last Wednesday at the University of Denver.

So, politics aside, let's talk about body language.

Most of the headlines I read in the days following this debate seemed to declare Romney as the winner. If you read below the headlines you'll see there was a lot of commentary about the two men's body language.

Obama did not smile as much, and at times seemed to avoid eye contact with Romney. Comparatively, Romney smiled more and seemed more confident throughout the debate.

Body language isn't just important to those vying to be the president of the US, it's important to you during an interview. Keep these thing in mind:

  • Smile. Not just with your lips but with your eyes. Smiling with your lips only, and not raising your eyebrows, gives that "fake smile" look.
  • Sit up straight. As my 91-year-old grandmother still tells me, don't slouch.
  • Breathe. Don't let challenging questions rattle your cage. Taking a couple of extra seconds can help you prevent you from getting heated and coming across as negatively emotional.
  • Use hand gestures. Generally speaking, it is best to keep your hand gestures between your shoulders and hips. Use bigger gestures sparingly.

Interviewing for a job is nothing like squaring off against an opponent in a political debate, but last week's performance should be a good reminder of the importance of body language.

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