Sane people need not apply

If there’s anything that strikes fear in the stoutest heart, that can turn the strongest, most courageous soul into a babbling fool, it’s the JOB INTERVIEW. Let’s face it. Nothing in life could have prepared me for this experience. Not labor and delivery. Not divorce. Not Kafka. It’s a strange and unique experience, not unlike the Fun House at Playland – only a lot less fun. Here you are, looking into the eyes of a total stranger whose sole purpose in life is to break you, like a young stallion; to weaken your resolve; to make you question not only the job you’re applying for, but your own sanity. I truly believe that somewhere out there, there’s a special Boot Camp for Interviewers, from which only the strongest emerge to inflict pain on the unsuspecting interviewee. From that point on, you can do no less than to march to that individual’s tune. I’ve been on the receiving end of this interview process many times, and I have the battle scars to prove it. Here are my observations.

I believe that Human Resource Departments everywhere use the same basic formula when determining how to choose the best employees. It’s about as simple as quantum physics. There is, however, a method to heir madness. After all, who wants to hire an individual who is totally unsuited to the position? Who wants to deal with frivolous lawsuits, stolen pencils, and other inconveniences? No one goes in WANTING to employ prima donnas or former axe murderers. With that in mind, they begin by honing their skills in the fine art of reading BODY LANGUAGE. It’s like this; while you’re sitting there in your borrowed suit appearing to be cool, the person on the other side of the desk is watching all the stupid moves you’re making. What moves, you say? Well, there are a few that come to mind that are considered to be definite no-nos;

1) There’s the simple handshake. We’ve been told that it should be firm, and that tenet still holds. Who wants to experience a handshake that feels like you’ve just caught a dead fish? A handshake with an elbow grasp is tricky; it could be perceived as being too earnest. The handshake should also be brief. The interviewer’s arm should not be mistaken for a pump handle. Nor should it be squeezed like a cow’s teat. Need I say that a handshake should be palm-to-palm? No high-fives or other perceived gang salutes. Now that I think about it, there’s nothing simple at all about it, is there?

2) There’s the hair-flipping move. Nothing annoys an interviewer more than having to watch an otherwise attractive, well-dressed, composed female constantly flipping hair out of her eyes. What does this mean? Is she going to the wrong hairdresser? Did she forget her hairpins? Does she have a permanent neck spasm? Unlike Tom Hanks in “Sleepless in Seattle”, these are NOT questions that a prospective employer wants to deal with. They might be kind, and say something like “By the way, you might want to see your shrink or your hairdresser. I don’t care which.” But chances are good that this young lady just won’t get called back for another round. If you’re a guy, there’s the hair-twirling move. Same results. (Does “trichotillomania” ring a bell?)

3) Makine eye contact is important when you’re on an interview. However, you should avoid the piercing stare. Similarly, one should avoid staring contests. They can be perceived as intimidating. Staring down your prospective boss is not a good thing. Looking down on your interviewer is also a bad idea, so whatever you do, sit lower in your chair. By all means, avoid squinting, beady eyes, or showing them “the shites of your eyes.” Remember, they are trained professionals, so don’t take them on.

4) By the same token, sucking up is generally not well received – unless, of course, you are hoping to get a gig on “The Apprentice.” While humility is generally a nice attribute, the boss might not take kindly to hand-kissing, foot-kissing, ass-kissing, or any other kind of kissing, for that matter. He may actually be a nice guy. He may not be an ego-maniac. He may prefer someone with a backbone. Besides, it’s gross.

5) Then there’s crossing body parts. Crossed arms, crossed fingers, crossed legs (unless you’re Sharon Stone), and crossed eyes, send the wrong message. It conveys that you’re closed and uptight. That you’re wound too tightly. And while this may, in fact, be true, you sure don’t want your interviewer to know it, so loosen up.

6) Never let them see you sweat. ‘Nough said.

7) Avoid tapping moves, whether it be pencil-tapping, foot-tapping (unless you’re at a dance audition), or teeth-chattering. The same applies to incessant eye-blinking. This leaves the interviewer with the job of having to figure out whether you’re a Nervous Nellie, a person with a neurological problem, or just freezing to death. Would YOU want to figure out which one it is?

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Published in: on February 8, 2011 at 2:03 am  Leave a Comment