It might be very subtle, a tiny inflection of the eye when a candidate says hello or thanks, or it may occur throughout the interview and be much more obvious, but however prolific, as a professional interviewer I am always surprised at how often I’m winked at during interviews.
It appears to be a habit that is predominantly the preserve of the guys and the time that it occurs most frequently is during the handshake at the start or end of the interview although, as I said, it can occur throughout.
Firstly I want to say that I am a big fan of winks. There’s something cool about a very small, but deliberate change in facial expression that can say so much and often in a very personal way. But with power comes responsibility, and I think that’s the key point here. Used in the right context, winks are great (a fantastic addition to your arsenal of facial expression options), but in the wrong context they give out different messages to those intended and that is what happens when they are used in interviews.
We represent very high preforming firms in the city. This is a highly professional environment that our candidates are trying to demonstrate that they both understand and are suited to. On a general level, I think it’s fair to say that winking neither fits this environment or the situation of an interview.
An interview is all about building a relationship, about connecting with your interviewer. This can often be the driving force behind a wink, but in my opinion winking takes things a step too far. Winking conveys a level of familiarity that shouldn’t be there. I have nothing against anyone chewing gum, that is until they are sat opposite me in an interview! What is fine in one context, can be a complete no-no in another.
Winks can also be easily misinterpreted. I think this is particularly the case when they are given out to members of the opposite sex. They can imply that you think the relationship is more than one of interviewer and interviewee, which is of course not where you want to be heading in your interview.
Ultimately, winking is just a habitual way of communicating, and something which the winker often doesn’t even realise they are doing. It is of course vital that you do everything you can to ensure that you are communicating in the way that will maximise your chances of success so, if you’re a habitual winker, I suggest you consider whether you want to take this habit with you next time you head into the interview room.