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Blending The Science Behind Color Into The Interview

By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager.

Monica Romeo is a Corporate Recruitment Consultant with over 10 years experience in employment coaching and recruitment and selection. She’s also an Image Consultant who can help with interview attire incorporating  the psychology of color to appear more credible and trustworthy. She also provides tips on how to use body language to advantage during an interview.

 

How do you anticipate interview questions?

 

In preparing for an interview, the single most valuable resources is the job posting itself.  Job postings are crafted based on the duties, requirement and physical demands of the job.  Postings are a summary of the key skills, abilities and knowledge required by the incumbent. It is recruitment best practice to craft interview questions based entirely on the qualifications listed on the posting. A quick study of a job posting will provide insight into what questions will be asked during the interview.  Take the following 3 sample qualifications listed on a leadership posting:

Posting qualification: Proven problem solver with solid analytical skills

Competency: problem solving, thinking outside box

Sample question: Explain a circumstance where you made a decision without all the relevant facts.

Posting qualification: Supervises, directs, as well as coaches, mentors and develops staff.

Competency: Leadership and mentoring skills

Sample question: Tell me about someone you have mentored or coached to achieve success

Posting qualification: Demonstrates the ability to cultivate positive internal and external working relationships to encourage collaboration. 

Competency: Leadership, interpersonal skills, conflict resolution

Sample question: Tell us about a time you had to make and deliver an unpopular decision

In preparation for your interview, craft a response for each of the qualifications listed and remember that the questions asked will vary, however the responses you’ve prepared and rehearsed are often relevant and will apply to more than one question throughout the interview.

What’s involved in crafting the proper responses?

In a behavioral based interview, the premise is that past behavior is an indicator of future behavior.  It’s essential that you prepare ahead of time crafting specific examples that you’ve encountered. The technique for responding to a behavioral based question is called the “STAR” technique and requires a 3 part response consisting of the following:

Situation/Task: Describe the situation or task

Action: Describe YOUR actions and the exact details of YOUR involvement

Result: Describe the result YOU achieved and the outcome

Do not offer hypothetical responses and always avoid using “would, should, could”.  A behavioral based response requires an actual event, situation or task that you were involved with.  It’s essential that you prepare and are armed with a bank of past examples.  A skilled interviewer will continue to probe if you’re speaking in hypotheticals.

How important are your clothes to interview success?

Impressions are formed within seconds! Every aspect of how you present yourself influences how you are perceived.  Over 90% of communication is non-verbal and your appearance is the most important non-verbal communication tool you possess.

Your appearance sends a strong message and creates a critical first impression. When skills, abilities and knowledge are equal among candidates, your appearance can tilt the scales in your

Monica Romeo

Monica Romeo

favor.

Mastering your interview attire is a simple and effective technique that should never be overlooked.  As a rule of thumb, for interviews, always dress a step above the dress code. If business casual is the recommendation, wear a suit.

Taking the time to invest in your appearance sends the message that you pay attention to detail, you take the role seriously and you are able to represent the corporation’s brand.

Can you explain what you call “the psychology of color” and it’s importance to the interview process?

There is a science behind color and its ability to evoke an emotional response from an audience. When interviewing, consider the profession and ask yourself, “how do I want to be perceived?”

Depending on the industry, you may want to denote creativity such as graphic design or marketing.  If you’re practicing law, focus on appearing credible and trustworthy. If you’re in the financial industry, portray reliability and security.

For men, opt for a dark suit in shades of blue, black or grey as these are power colors and they denote authority.  Strategize on the color of the tie to send your message.  Blue is associated with intelligence and being trustworthy and red, decisive, bold and power.  Consider the political realm and chances are you will see a dark colored suit with either a blue or red tie. The color of the tie is strategically selected based on the intended message.  Brown is a color of dependability but can appear dated.  Orange, yellow and other loud colors are not recommended for interview unless the message you are trying to send is bold and creative.

For women, opt for conservative dresses or suits in the same hues described above.  Accent your outfit with jewelry or scarves in the colors described, which are inline with your intended message.

For women in particular, a bold colored suit, ie. Red can help you stand out and be heard especially if you are in a male dominated industry.  Use red with caution, as it is also associated with passion, anger and aggression.  Utilize your communication and body language to ensure you are sending the right message.

How can you use body language to your advantage?

Body language is a powerful career tool and can speak volumes in an interview. As part of interview preparation, candidates should invest time in studying body language and becoming aware of their own bodies and non-verbal tendencies.

A handshake can fast forward the human connection and build rapport. Keep the handshake firm and the direction should be straight up and down with 3 pumps.  Hands play a large part in an interview and should be visible throughout as they are a subconscious indicator of trust. Whenever possible, use your hands when speaking, keeping things natural and fluid.

Interviews can be stressful and anxiety provoking but it’s imperative that you pay attention to your own non-verbal messaging and your body’s response to this heightened emotional state.  Keep your body open and ensure that you are not using items to ‘block’ your torso as a subconscious coping mechanism.

Blocking occurs when we are feeling vulnerable or self-conscious and is often done by holding objects such as notebooks, laptops, coffee mugs, purses or crossed arms, against the chest.  The goal is to keep an open and direct path from your torso to the interviewer’s torso. Pay particular attention to the direction of your feet.  When we are uncomfortable, our feet naturally position in the direction of the door or exit.  In group settings, your posture and feet will directly face the person your are most comfortable with or interested in.  Use the direction of your body and feet to aid in building rapport.

In addition to body language, seating can also impact your success.

Traditionally, interview set up consists of an interviewer or panel on one side of the table and the candidate directly across.  Although this is great to assess eye contact and other non-verbal forms of communication, studies have found that it’s the worst set up for influencing an audience.

When you have the option, select a seat that is at an angle or sit diagonal the interviewer if at a desk or boardroom table.  Also consider the height of the chair you are sitting in. If you are sitting in an adjustable chair, be sure to keep the height equal to your interviewer or panel, sitting too low can make you appear submissive and less authoritative, and less confident, while a chair that is positioned too high can undermine rapport and trust and subconsciously cause your interviewer to feel defensive.When in doubt, use your interviewer as your guide to building rapport by mirror their posture, cadence and expressions.

 

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