Proxemics: Use Psychology to Ace your Next Interview!

Proxemics is the psychology of non-verbal communication including positioning and personal space. A better understanding of theses non-verbal cues and norms can help you in many social and business settings. 

Here are some tips which you can apply to an interview setting. 
Often in an interview it is an “Us vs Them dichotomy.” Determine your seating arrangement and increase your chances of getting hired.

Rules I teach my clients:
for a dyad or pairs (i.e.: 1 interviewer, 1 interviewee)

If you are a female interviewee and have a female interviewer: you can sit either across from them or adjacent *(either position is viewed as favorable)

If you are a male interviewee and have a female interviewer, chose the position directly across from the interviewer. An adjacent position will make the female interviewer ill at ease, with an applicant of the opposite sex.

If you are a male interviewee and have a male interviewer: try to sit adjacent to them, not across from them. Research has found that male to male competition and aggression can be triggered by being directly across from each other, in a confrontational position.

If you are a female interviewee and have a male interviewer: it is preferable to sit across from them. Otherwise, this could be construed as flirtatious, if you do not know the interviewer. Though, neither adjacent positioning, nor facing the person directly – in a female/male dyad is considered aggressive.

Additional Tips:
For a group interview, and you can choose a seat in the boardroom – don’t sit at the end of the table. This sets up a confrontational, interrogation style interview. Try to use the gender rules of Proxemics and integrate within the group. Sometimes, you will not have a choice of seat and are forced into the “hot seat” If this is the case, then angle your body to appear more – adjacent to the interviewers, rather than head on.

Pass your resume at a 45 degree angle, which is much more subtle and more likely to get buy in, than sliding your resume directly across head on. Note: when I worked in sales, I would present the sales contract at a t45 degree angle. If the customer touched the contract, then there was a 90% chance of a sale. If they wouldn’t touch the document, then they were not convinced and no amount of talking would change their mind.

Consider proxemics as you prepare for your next interview!

Author: © 2013 - All Rights Reserved - Sharon B. Cohen, MA, Dip.Educ, CPRP. Career Counselor and Career Transition Specialist. Atlanta, GA. "Helping business professionals, reach their career potential!"

Contact me if you'd like guidance on the path to your ideal career Sharon B. Cohen

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