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What a two year old taught me about interviews

Secretly trapped in a 2-year-old’s body is an expert interviewer. If you don’t believe me, find one (preferably from parents you know) and smile at it. Did it smile back or did it not make eye contact with you at all? Try again, perhaps stand right in front of it. Careful! you might scare it. Maybe smile and say hello in a calm voice. Better? or did you make it cry? You see 2 year old’s are smart creatures, c’mon we’ve all been there. They need to be engaged. It’s not enough to grin or nod. You’ve even tried to dance, make absurd noises and play hide and seek with your own palms to win it’s attention. This is exactly like an interview situation but there are ways to communicate without looking like a desperate clown.


“As children, we were masters of body language. As we got older, and verbal communication increased, we lost much of our ability to use nonverbal communication to our advantage.” – Beverley Samuel

We need to imagine that whatever we want to have we first need to give. If we want respect, we first need to give respect. If we want loyalty we need to first give loyalty. You get the idea.

So if you are giving nervousness and uncertainty during your interview then chances are you will also have those same feelings reflected back to you.

Look at your body as a 30 piece orchestra and the song it creates is the message your projecting. All have different parts to play and at different times. You can choose to use a subtle instrument or at times a group to build anticipation and intrigue. At the end of your performance, you should have strung together a captivating and harmonious demonstration of charm, talent and commited work ethic.

Aim high. You’ll know when you receive that standing ovation.

“One study at UCLA indicated that up to 93 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues. Another study indicated that the impact of a performance was determined 7 percent by the words used, 38 percent by voice quality, and 55 percent by the nonverbal communication.” – Susan M. Heathfield


High pitched “umms”, extended “ahhhs” and frequent “I-dunnos” are just some of the vehicles that carry unnecessary tone.

When responding in conversation to a potential employer, I suggest speaking as if you already know them. This thought alone has destroyed any anxiety I had before interviews. Your tone then becomes confident and relaxed.

Being down to earth is a huge box many candidates don’t tick. While you’re thinking “I’m going to impress the pants out of this Director” they’re thinking “Do I really want to spend 8-10 hours of my day, 5 days a week with this person?”.


  • Smile (not the creepy kind, think George Clooney or Julia Roberts, professional yet warm and pleasant)
  • Breath (get the blood flowing so you can think clearly)
  • Relax your shoulders
  • Never fold your arms
  • Avoid slouching
  • Hold eye contact
  • Nod when appropriate
  • Your tone must have depth and character
  • Use the subtleties of facial expressions to add to your stories
  • Take advantage of hand gesturing to create emotion


  1. Nonverbal communication improves with practice
  2. You’re already brilliant, continue to be better
  3. There’s only one of you
  4. Interviews work both ways, it’s also an opportunity to see if they’re a good fit for you and your personal life goals.

What are some effective non-verbal communication examples have you learnt during interview conversations?

For more, pick up a copy of Ram Castillo’s internationally and industry-acclaimed book ‘How to Get a Job as a Designer, Guaranteed’.

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Author: Ram Castillo

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About Ram Castillo


Ram is an award winning Design Director, Blogger, top ranking Podcaster, Speaker, Instructor and Author of two internationally acclaimed books 'How to get a job as a designer, guaranteed' and 'How to get a mentor as a designer, guaranteed'. He's based in Sydney, Australia and in 2012, started the blog which helps thousands of design students and graduates be employed. Ram has since been featured in Communication Arts, HOW magazine, Herman Miller, deFrost*, and Apple.

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