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Job Hunting Dos and Don'ts


Tips for landing your first gig.


A solid cover letter and resume will get you a job interview, but weak or inappropriate body language can kill your chances for the job.

Polishing your verbal skills for an interview is helpful, but also think about how you walk, sit, speak and look at the interviewer.

"Like anything else, you get better with practice," says Jack Rayman, Director of Career Services at Penn State University. "Make your presentation of a roommate or go through some mock interviews at the university placement center."

Some research suggests that first impressions are largely based on body language and tone of voice rather than what you're saying. A poor first impression is hard to overcome, no matter how solid your credentials.

Start your Minyanville's Tips for June Grads preparations for a job interview by practicing your presentation in front of a mirror with a tape recorder running. This will help answer the age-old question: How do others see me?

Don't overlook the basics at the interview, including posture when walking, sitting up straight, putting both feet squarely on the floor, hand position and making eye contact with the interviewer.

Clearly, there's no dictionary for body language and it's therefore impossible to say various gestures mean A, B or C. In general, here's how typical body language will be perceived:

  • Slouching in the chair during the interview suggests that you're not prepared or that you know you're not up to the job.

  • Rubbing your neck or the back of your head suggests that you're bored by the interview.

  • Rubbing or touching your nose when responding to a question suggests you're not being honest.

  • Staring at the floor suggests a lack of interest in the conversation and a desire to be somewhere else.

  • Folding your arms across your chest is generally considered a defensive posture or, at best, conveys lack of interest in the conversation.

  • Standing with hands stuffed in your pockets suggests a lack of confidence.

  • Sitting with legs crossed while shaking one leg or foot suggests nervousness or discomfort.

The flip side:

  • If the interviewer leans back in his chair, folds his hands behind his head and smiles, that's almost certainly a look of condescension.

  • If the interviewer drums his fingers on the desk while you're speaking, he's probably bored.

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