Top advice for interviewees.... how to present with gravitas

10 things to do with your body in an important meeting

(interview, first date, flat  mate interview,  meeting the future in-laws for the first time or whenever)

1.       Shake hands after the interviewer has offered theirs to you. This implies deference

2.       Smile while you shake and make eye contact

3.       Sit up straight, with your back against the seat (unless this means your feet dangle). This can be hard if you are tall as you won’t want to dominate them but better that than a slouching, lounging.

4.       Sit still, allowing your foot to tap will betray anxiety, shuffling around in the chair can make you appear as if you lack self awareness and self control. Slouching can make you look too casual or even worse slovenly. It’s OK to lean forward to emphasise a point.

5.       Put your hands in your lap if there is no table and on the table if there is. Use them for emphasis but avoid windmilling in an exaggeration fashion. No pointing! (appears aggressive) No arm crossing. No hands in pockets.

6.       Cross your legs once, at the calves, not across the knees, crossing them across the thigh looks arrogant and at the ankles looks prissy and tucking them under the chair looks like you have something to hide.

7.       If you need to shut the door, do it without turning your back on the panel, and then sit down without turning away, whilst smiling.. difficult but charismatic!

8.       Engage with all the panel, look them all in the eye, not just the one who is asking the questions.

9.       Look pleasant even if the question is a stinker, beware of eye rolling, frowning, pulling back to indicate dislike.

10.   Keep your behaviour neutral not sexual, no flicking your hair, pursing your lips, licking your lips, tilting your head, holding eye contact too long…. You know how it works!

Views: 1114

Comment by Valentino Martinez on August 11, 2011 at 4:10am


Are these your ideas?  Please take my comments with no ill will toward you...

Q#5"...avoid windmilling in an exaggeration fashion".  You know, the moment I read that I thought it was just me who did the "windmilling" when the need arises.  Thanks for reminding me that it must be a common occurrence that should be guarded against.  Now that's funny.

Q#9--"Look pleasant even if the question is a stinker" that good advice?  If I disagree with a question that qualifies as a "stinker" you suggest I should let it pass by giving a "pleasant" reaction.  I think such questions are posed to get a reaction.  Getting none may mark me as possibly deaf, or unintelligent. 


I love that besides a job interview, these instructions also apply to a "first date, flat mate interview, meeting the future in-laws for the first time or whenever" 

For some reason I have a urge to "windmill".

Comment by Mary Hope on August 11, 2011 at 5:19am

 Thanks Valentino..... you must have seen people squirm when asked a difficult questions.. with a 'I really don't want to have to answer that sort of face'... best avoided methinks.... appropriate indignation if you get asked if you've ever taken a bribe.... what sort of questions do you ask 'to get a reaction'?

You know I wrote the bit about first date, first meeting with the in laws but you've set me thinking about what the questions might be!

Many clients ask me how to present with gravitas.. some of this is the answer and then you meet a candidate who only does half of this and is just so fab in other ways......

Thanks for commenting.. my first on this site, nice to know someone is reading what i am shunting out into the ether....

Comment by Valentino Martinez on August 11, 2011 at 11:51am



I made light of your post because Q#5 set me off with the advice to "...avoid windmilling" in an interview.   And for Q#9 I actually agree that letting a question unnerve you can do more harm than good.  My point was that sometimes giving a reaction, a controlled one, to a stinky question demonstrates that you care enough about the question to express a concern about it.  A "pleasant expression" under fire suggests you may be mute, or in a trance...which is an odd response given the circumstances.

The questions I pose in an interview are not meant to get a reaction other than a truthful response regarding their experiences, education, accomplishments and ambition.  I think I can get at that information by not insulting, tricking or stressing a job applicant. 

Some job candidates are good at presenting GRAVITAS in an interview due to their confidence gained from work experiences and accomplishments--and some are damn good actors.  And some candidates are not so confident, but even those have potential.

Rather than GRAVITAS - I pursue VERITAS because getting as close as possible to the truth of a candidate's background can separates the doers from the actors.

By the way, Mary--so far your post has attracted 403 "view" (the number is listed right beneath you post).  That's plenty of interest and my guess is other responses will be coming soon as well.


Comment by Mary Hope on August 11, 2011 at 12:41pm

Lovin' it! Glad the windmilling made you smile... I like to bring a smile to people's faces! :-)


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