In many ways, university interviews are really no different from job interviews.
- They are never an exact science.
- All interviewers make judgements based upon what they see as well as what they hear.
- First impressions are particularly persuasive.
You need to bear these points in mind when you prepare for your university interview to ensure you are doing what you can to create the right image. It is generally reckoned that, at certain points in an interview, as much as 90% of communication is expressed non-verbally, so you need to be very aware of the effects of your body language and how to use it to your advantage.
OK, so the basic do’s and don’ts:
- Smile -it is the easiest way to make a positive impression
- Give a firm and confident handshake
- Be aware of your posture; make sure you sit up straight (leaning forward slightly helps to create an impression of keenness)
- Keep good eye contact throughout
- Maintain an interested expression - nod and make positive gestures, as appropriate
- Fidget in your seat, play with your hair or jewellery or, worse still, crack your knuckles (the latter, in my experience, is a surprisingly common reaction to nerves)
- Slouch in your chair and look down at the floor
- Fold your arms across your chest - it will make you look guarded and unfriendly
- Focus on only one panel member - make sure you are addressing all interviewers
I know that an interview situation can be quite overwhelming. Body language rules can quite easily slip at the expense of the focus on answering questions well. As much as possible, try not to let this happen. Give yourself prompts. As each new question is asked, use this as a prompt to re-address your body language - to sit up a bit straighter, to give a smile, to meet eye contact and only then to answer each question in turn.
Like everything else, use of good body language is a learned skill and practice will make it easier. But also, good preparation in advance and confidence on how you are able to answer the questions posed should give you a little more room to focus on also creating the right non-verbal impression during your interview.
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