Lofty ideals for interviews

3rd December 2004 at 00:00
Jill Parkin offers practical advice for the shorter candidate

* Ask yourself what message height gives. It says something like "I command respect" so set about giving it in other ways. Success and respect no longer depend on wrestling the biggest woolly mammoth to the ground and dragging it back to the cave, but any anthropologist will tell you that you have some very tough hard-wiring to beat.

* Height discrepancy is much more noticeable up close, so as soon as that door opens, look the lead interviewer in the eye, and as you walk closer, eyeball the rest.

* If you're a man, don't wear built-up shoes. They'll immediately know you have an inferiority complex - you don't want the nickname Napoleon.

* Go groomed. Wear impressive clothes. Polish your shoes. Women should avoid anything fussy and go for clean lines. Men should think classic.

* When they discuss your portfolioperformanceCV, don't be touchy. They'll see it as a small man problem. Calm and analytical is somehow much... taller.

* Your bearing matters. Don't slump. Shoulders back as you walk.

In your chair, lean forward slightly and maintain eye contact.

* Mind your manners throughout the day. Be civil but not servile. A little bit of ceremony, such as holding doors open for a governor, and remembering to pass the coffee round, will make you seem at ease in the school. But don't overdo it, otherwise you'll look like George Bush patronising the Queen in Buckingham Palace.

* People who command respect take their time. Don't rush your answers. Look your questioner in the eye. And smile occasionally.

* Don't let your hands go near your face. Don't fold your arms either.

* Ask questions and make it a conversation. You need to advertise, but if you talk about yourself all the time, they'll think you're overcompensating for you-know-what.

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