Body Language In a Job Interview: Do’s & Don’ts
Have you ever wondered how your clothes, speech tone or even body language interfere in your job interview? Choosing the appropriate outfit is important, but your gestures, posture and facial expressions are also key to a successful interview. This is a situation that allows you to demonstrate skills and qualifications that you cannot put in a resume and to verify that you are a good fit for the company’s culture.
Some psychological studies have concluded that two thirds of our communication is nonverbal. According to UCLA professor and researcher Albert Mehrabian, 55% of the messages processed by the brain are based on a person’s body language. That means if you claim in your resume that you are outgoing and confident because you have years of experience in the field, you do not want to be perceived as shy, anxious or unsure of yourself. Being aware of the nonverbal signals you’re sending is a way to step up your game and show your best attributes to the interviewer.
DRESS TO KILL
Your interview attire speaks volumes. Choose wisely depending on the position you’re applying for and your future daily duties. When working in communications and PR, you might need to appear in front of camera to give statements to the media. Social media managers, on the other hand, don’t even deal with clients in person but still need to be in tune with the company’s dress code policy. Before you go for an interview, check the company’s website to read about their values to have a better idea of their dress code policy.
Pro tip: avoid any strong perfume, cologne or aftershave – you don’t want to be remembered as the one who left the conference room with a unique odor.
HANDSHAKE LIKE JFK
The way you shake hands says a lot about who you are as a person. It is a sign of your depth of character, confidence and reliability. Nobody likes a weird ‘limp fish’ handshake or one that crushes your bones. You don’t want to come off as an anxious person because you pulled your hand out too fast, nor being in the awkward situation where you don’t ever let go.
John F. Kennedy famously commissioned a study to find out the most effective handshake – the winner was the ‘double handshake’ with a firm grip, where the left hand is placed under the right hand to ‘cup’ the clasped hands. When you put your left hand in this position, it adds an extra dimension of commitment and enthusiasm, and portrays great sense of trust in the other person.
THE EYE OF THE TIGER
The ability to maintain good eye contact shows your level of awareness and interest in the conversation. Don’t look down at your shoes nor stare at the table – it suggests lack of confidence and anxiety. Try to make just the right amount of eye contact to demonstrate you’re ready and interested in answering any of the recruiter’s questions. “If your eyes in an interview are fidgety or continuously shifting back and forth, this can mean you are trying to conjure up an answer that you are not sure is the right one”, states body language guru Susan Constantine.
AVOID INTERPRETIVE DANCES
Using your hands when explaining something is okay and desirable, but with moderation. “Whole arm karate chop gestures can psychologically cut up the space between you and your interviewer in an aggressive way”, says Cynthia Burnham, expert in helping top-tier executives polish their public appearances.
“I once interviewed a woman who kept using gigantic arm gestures while she talked. She knocked over both our cups of coffee on the conference room table… and the interview went downhill from there.” – Lisa Quast, career coach expert.
KEEP YOUR HEAD UP
Typically, a person leans into a conversation when we like somebody, so leaning back can signal the exact opposite: disinterest or neglect. However, don’t crowd the interviewer by leaning in too closely, as it can be mistaken for overly solicitous or even threatening. Experts advise to aim for neutral position; go for a ‘sit up straight’ posture and keep yourself relaxed, without crossing your arms, or sticking your hands into your pockets – that shows you’re comfortable, approachable and open for discussion.
Avoid tapping your feet, shaking your leg, clicking pens, twirling your hair, biting your nails – all these gestures take the focus away from what you’re saying. And also, don’t even think about rocking on your chair.
BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Soaking in the environment during the conversation with your prospective employer will help you confirm if you’re a good fit for the company’s culture too. Look around, check the ambience, and observe the people around you. How are your future co-workers behaving? Do they look stressed? Are they passing by you in a hurry? Do they work in isolated rooms or they share a common table? How are they dressed? All these subtle aspects give you a better understanding of the unspoken information about the work environment and the position.