Your perfectly crafted resume and flawless cover letter have landed you an interview.
You’ve perfected responses to the toughest questions that you think may be asked, and you’re heading to the interview confident that you’re a strong candidate for the position. Don’t let your bad body language cost you the job!
The expression “it’s not what you say, it’s what you do” is never truer than in a job interview. Take note and be sure to avoid these body language blunders at your next job interview.
Not walking the walk
According to body language expert Patti Wood, interviewers often make a hiring judgment within the first 10 seconds of meeting their candidate. That means you’re being judged before you’ve even uttered your first word, so it’s vital to be aware of what your body is saying from the moment you step through the door.
Portray confidence by walking into the room with your shoulders pulled back and your neck elongated. Walking directly toward your interviewer with everybody part pointing in their direction, make eye contact with them, engage them with a smile, and you’ll make a great first impression.
Another vital element of your first impression, getting the handshake right is essential. Too firm and you run the risk of appearing arrogant or over-confident, but too weak and you may seem like a pushover. Before shaking hands with the hiring manager, make eye contact and smile at them. Follow their lead and only apply as much pressure as he or she does.
Posture is an integral part of nonverbal conversation. If you slouch, you run the risk of looking a little too relaxed and may portray a casual, not bothered attitude. But similarly, sitting rigid with your fists tightly clutched in your lap, makes you look too stiff and nervous. Neither of which make a very good impression on the hiring manager.
At an interview, sit firmly and lean your back straight against the chair as a signal of assurance and confidence. As the conversation progresses, you can lean in slightly to show that you’re engaged.
Lack of eye contact
Making eye contact with the interviewer is the best way to show that you’re actually paying attention to what they are saying and engaging with them. Avoid staring blankly at your interviewer, rather try to hold eye contact for a few seconds at a time. If you have more than one interviewer, be sure to make eye contact with all of them, with particular focus on the person who asked the question.
Too much fidgeting
Touching your face, playing with your hair or twiddling your thumbs not only makes you look overly nervous, but it can also distract the hiring manager.
If you're not sure of what to do with your hands, use them to gesture while speaking. Keep your personal gestures open and expressive and make you’re your shoulders are relaxed and facing the interviewer to keep them involved in what you’re saying.
Being over zealous
An interview is a formal situation and should be treated as such. The hiring manager should be treated with respect and authority, so don’t be too familiar with them straight off at the first meeting. Be aware of their personal space, don’t stand too close and certainly do not hug them. Don’t make too much intense eye contact as you may make them feel uncomfortable. Instead, go for "direct face contact," and look at different parts of their hiring manager’s face to ensure you look interested and engaged.
At an interview, you want to seem friendly and approachable. The simplest way to do this is to smile! When you’re nervous, it’s easy to forget to smile, but frowning gives off a negative vibe, which can affect your rapport with the hiring manager.
Smile agreeably and nod where appropriate. Laugh when the interviewer does to show you have a personality and you’re paying attention to what’s being said.
It’s fair to say that no one really looks forward to a job interview. Trying to strike the balance between confident, but not obnoxious; intelligent but not a know-it-all can be a difficult line to negotiate. That’s why body language is so important … Be sure to use it to your advantage at your next job interview.
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