Don’t Let Body Language Kill Your Job Prospects
Your resume may match the description of that dream job to a tee and may even get you in the door for an interview, but one simple nonverbal miscue could take you right out of the running. Take it from Jennifer Gray, Founder of Market Street Talent, who has seen her fair share of candidates rejected for simply sending the wrong message through their body language. Below, she shares some helpful tips on how to keep the focus during an interview away from nervous ticks or sweaty palms and where it belongs: on your skills and talents.
First and foremost, be mindful of your posture from the moment you walk into the building until the time you leave (you never know who is watching!). Stand with your shoulders back, your head up, and your body facing the person you are speaking with. When sitting, don’t slouch in the chair, lean back or position your body so you’re facing away from the interviewer. Instead, sit near the edge of the chair with similar standing posture.
Extra tip: Try to imagine a string pulling your body up from the crown of your head. It will help you keep your posture in check.
Your handshake is one of the first clues an interviewer will get into your personality. Limp handshake? You lack confidence. Strong, painful handshake? You’re too aggressive. Don’t let your handshake end the interview before it even begins—work on developing a firm shake that tells the interviewer you mean business.
Extra tip: If you suffer from excessively sweaty palms, drink water to cool your body down before heading into an interview or try using an antiperspirant specifically developed for hands.
When greeting people from the receptionist to the interviewer, smile. Smiling makes you appear friendly and open, and is one of the easiest ways you can leave a lasting impression on those you meet.
Extra tip: Smiling should be done in moderation; you don’t want the interviewer thinking you’re not taking him or her seriously.
Maintaining eye contact gives the impression that you are confident and paying attention. If you are being interviewed by several people, make eye contact with every person in the room, not just the person in front of you or those you feel you connect with.
Extra tip: Making too much eye contact can give a person the creeps. Look away periodically to give your interviewer a break from maintaining eye contact with you.
Beware of hand gestures. While using your hands during conversation to accentuate a point is acceptable, constantly flailing them around can be distracting and aggressive. Avoid sitting with clenched fists or clasping your hands together, which makes you seem closed off and unapproachable, or touching your face too much, which makes you appear uncomfortable or that you aren’t telling the truth.
Extra tip: Placing your hands in your lap with your palms facing up gives you an honest and open appearance.
With your legs uncrossed, you maintain an open posture and give the interviewer the perception that you are receptive and not defensive. Keeping your feet flat on the floor also helps you maintain good posture.
Extra tip: If crossing your legs feels most comfortable, do so at the ankles.
Finally, ditch the gum before heading into an interview. While it does wonders for your breath, your chewing or snapping can be distracting and annoying to the interviewer.
Performing a mock interview with a friend or a family member before starting the interview process not only helps you prepare answers to potential interview questions, it can also help you recognize your nonverbal strengths and weaknesses. Go one step further and record your mock interview; you might not even realize you smile at inappropriate times or excessively touch your face.