Musical Chairs

When preparing for an interview; you practice what you’re going to say, you carefully choose a sharp outfit – but the real question is where are you going to sit?

Believe it or not, there’s a psychology some HR people use when seating you for an interview. It’s simple really. All they do is find some way to place them in a seat of power over you. To tell you the truth, I don’t know why they do it. I don’t know if by doing this they get some keen insight into the inner workings of your work ethic. Part of me thinks they do it because of tradition. Another part of me thinks they do it because it’s fun. Whatever the case may be, it’s something you have to look out for when choosing your seat for an interview.

The most common arrangement you’ll run into is the big desk. The person interviewing you sits behind a big desk and offers you the small, uncomfortable chair on the other side. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a choice of two, but sometimes you’re limited to just one. In either case, you have to concede this layout to the interviewer. If given the choice of two chairs, choose the one that will provide the most comfortable viewing angle for the person interviewing. Sure, they get the upper hand, but you also don’t want to give them a stiff neck.

On some occasions, especially if it’s a larger office, the interviewer may lead you over to a lounge area with a couch and some chairs. Your impulse is to take the couch. It’s more comfortable and you think you’ll seem more relaxed during the interview. You’d be wrong. Couches promote slouching. Your eye level will be lower, your posture will be loose and you’ll generally seem less positive because of it. Always choose the chairs. They promote better posture and you’ll project much better because of it.

Other instances may see the interviewer leading you to a table. This can be in a conference room, which means a long table, or a smaller table the office typically uses for impromptu meetings with a small group. The temptation here is to sit across from the interviewer. This actually creates negative space between you, almost setting you up as combatants as opposed to willing participants in an exchange of ideas. You’ll want to sit next to the interviewer, but keep a comfortable distance to achieve this effect.

It’s difficult to not think of an interview as some sort of combat, especially in the business world where executives read The Art of War slavishly. But, you need to try and imagine that the interviewer isn’t your enemy but rather a collaborator. You’re going to share ideas and both decide if this career move is the best for you and the company.

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2 Responses

  1. ill have to use this information in my next interview!

  2. good advice, ill keep it in mind.

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