‘JT & Dale Talk Jobs’ is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com.
J.T.: We sometimes get the chance to have outside experts join our discussions. Today we get to hear from Joe Navarro, author of the helpful and readable book, Louder Than Words. Given Joe is a retired FBI agent who’s an expert on body language, we wanted his thoughts on that critical job-search moment — making a good first impression when meeting a hiring manager.
Joe: It’s important to rehearse with another person, and that includes walking in. You want to be able to walk in with a purpose, showing attention and eagerness.
Dale: As for using you body language, we always hear about the firm handshake and about eye contact and —
Joe: Let me stop you there, at eye contact. Superiors are allowed to look wherever they like, but subordinates are not. So don’t scan the room like radar — that can come across as intrusive. In fact, an HR person recently told me that she’d trashed an application because the guy had stared at a photo on her desk — it was a picture of her with her husband in the Bahamas, in swimsuits. She saw him looking and concluded, “That’s it — he’s outta here.”
J.T.: I’d have to fault the HR person for putting out a swimsuit photo, but I understand your point.
Dale: Speaking of staring, we know from your book that while it’s called “eye contact,” we can stare into a person’s eyes for only one and a half seconds without risk of making the other person uneasy. So if you’re not looking around the room or in the eyes, where are you looking?
Joe: You’re scanning the other person’s face, and only from the chin up. In New York when someone is staring, they say, “What are YOU lookin’ at?” Make sure there’s no chance you set off that reaction.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, jtodonnell.com, and of the blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.
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