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What Your Words And Body Language Say In An Interview

2:11 PM, May 15, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- Recently, 2 Wants to Know has offered tips about applying for jobs and interviews. But now, we're focused on interviews.

2 Wants to Know invited HR manager Lisha Akers and body language expert Blanca Cobb to our studio to help our job candidate with a role play. Wanda, our job candidate, is a speech pathologist. But the questions and the expert feedback apply to any job interview and situation.


Akers said when interviewers ask "what's your biggest weakness," the employer doesn't actually want a true weakness. Akers said you should find something about you that is quirky, and put a positive spin on it, like saying, "I over analyze things, and think things through several times before I take on a task."

When they ask "what aspect(s) of your job do you like the least", it lets the interviewer understand disposition of candidate. By uncovering the candidate's pet peeves, they can determine if they will get along with other team members.

If they ask "what motivates you to work hard" the employers is looking for superlatives. A candidate should say something like, "I am extremely driven; I am a perfectionist and work hard to make everything perfect."

If an employer asks "how does your behavior at work differ from that at home or with your friends", Akers said candidates should take that opportunity to be thoughtful, show personality, and get out of autopilot mode.

If they ask "what is your biggest success at your most recent job" take that as an opportunity to brag on yourself. Akers said you should tell what you're proud of in your latest position, and give details on how you helped the company. 

If you're asked to think of a project or a time where you made a mistake, the candidate should be able to think on their feet and give examples of how they're able to handle "bad" situations.

If an interviewer asks, "tell me about a time when <BLANK>/ Give me an example of <BLANK>, they're looking for real life examples. Akers said the candidate should always detail the situation, the action taken, and the result.

Successes are good, but the interviewer also wants to know what you take from a failed situation. If you're asked "what is your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it," they want to know that you are constantly learning, and can take something positive out of a not-great situation.

If they ask about how you handle stress/ stressful situations, they want to make sure you don't completely shut down, and can hopefully turn it into something productive.

When an interviewer asks "how do you set goals for yourself," they want to see what processes you use to motivate yourself and accomplish tasks.


Body language expert Blanca Cobb, of TruthBlazer, watched Wanda answer the questions, and offered suggestions for things she might change to make sure her body language is conveying the right message.

Cobb said a candidate should be careful of tilting their heads when answering a question. She said it takes away from a person's power and confidence. She said instead you should have your head straight up on your shoulders, which gives a different impression.

She also said to be aware of your hands in an interview. Lacing your fingers or crossing your hands suggests a person is unsure of themselves. Instead a person should have their hands open and rested on the table (if it's available).

You also want to be careful with your lips. Cobb said a person may tighten their lips when they're nervous. But she also said that conveys they're not sure of what they're saying, or they're not liking what they're hearing.

Cobb said a simple head nod shows that you're listening, and that what the person is saying is important to you. Leaning in also sends the message that you're engaged and helps establish a rapport with the other person.

If you have an opportunity to brag on yourself, use your hands. Hand motions help you be expressive and send a more powerful message.

She also said a person should be aware of their hand movements during the interview. While big hand gestures can be good when being expressive, they can also be seen as a sign of nervousness. So if your leg itches, you may want to try to wait until after the interview to scratch! You want the perception to be that you're in control during the interview, rather than fidgety and nervous.

Making eye contact is also important as you're responding. Cobb said it's okay to look away when thinking because that is the natural response, and makes for natural conversation.

Be sure to watch the entire interview for all the tips that can help you get your point across.

WFMY News 2

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