“The interview that will change your life” – the job interview, of course. Pass, you’re on your way. Fail, and it’s back to square one.
The business magazine President (Oct 29) offers its help. Whether you’re fresh out of college, a workforce veteran seeking fresh challenges with a new company, or perhaps a retiree eager to get back in the game, the job interview looms as the first hurdle to cross – and it’s tricky. So much so, as President describes it, that it seems rather a wonder that most people are working.
First things first: the first impression. It’s absolutely key, and is formed, says Rissho University psychologist Isamu Saito, within 0.2 seconds.
That’s daunting. The personnel officer who has your fate in his or her hands will have decided, in that case, before word one is spoken – and on the basis of what? Your clothes? Your height and weight? A chance expression that flickers across your face? There’s no telling. Well, actually there is, says Saito. Given a little psychological insight, you can manipulate the situation to your advantage.
The rule of thumb, he says, is known to the initiated as “the 6.3.1. law.” That first impression so quick to take shape has as its components facial expression (60 percent), tone of voice (30 percent) and, lastly, what you actually say (10 percent).
Can the expression on your face really be so important? And what you say so insignificant? Research shows that to be the case. It’s how the subconscious operates, and there’s not much anyone can do about it. Don’t try to change it, President advises. Instead, use it. Smile. A smile is so important.
The human instinct, Saito explains, is to take a stranger for an enemy. We evolved in circumstances that made wariness necessary. Circumstances have changed, and so have we, but instincts are instincts. A smile dissolves the natural tension between strangers. Well, smile, then. Walk into the room with a smile on your face. Easier said than done. Some people can pull it off. For others, it’s a chore – and looks like one. Never mind, Saito says. Even a tense smile is better than no smile.
“The Japanese,” Saito says, “are naturally modest.” That’s good in some social situations, less good in others. In this one it’s less good. What your demeanor must show, he says, is “positiveness.” Your voice should radiate confidence. You don’t feel confident? You’re lost if the interviewer sees that, or feels it. There’s no reason why he or she should, if you’re properly prepared.
Clothes, for instance. Dress carefully, with forethought. If you’re just out of college, the standard-issue “recruit suit” may be de rigueur – though less so as times change and corporations allow, and increasingly even demand, varying degrees of individuality. More seasoned job-seekers have more leeway, and should know, Saito advises, that colors carry a whole psychology with them. Red says, “Outgoing, likes novelty, needs stimulation;” blue: “Polite, knowledgeable, clean, traditional;” white: “clean, sophisticated, youthful” – and so on. What image do you want to project?
It depends in large part, consultant and author Satoshi Noguchi tells President, on the company you hope will hire you. Research it, he says. It’s not enough to google it. Visit it in person, on some pretext or other. Look around. How are the employees dressed? How do they talk? What expressions do you see on their faces? You may not want to imitate them to the point of violating your individuality. On the other hand… it’s up to you. Forewarned, forearmed, off you go to your interview, and good luck.
© Japan Today
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