You’ve worked so hard practicing for your upcoming job interview. You’ve polished and refined your answers and have that confidence that comes with being well-prepared. But are you missing a key factor in how to interview well? If you haven’t paid attention to your body language, you are!
Research has shown that non-verbal cues account for more than 50% of communication. The eye roll. The crossed arms. The nervous finger tapping. It all sends a message, a negative one. Although it is often unconscious behavior, our body language is often a sure sign of how we are feeling or what we are thinking. The problem comes when that message is in conflict with the words coming out of our mouths. So, instead of an articulate, confident interviewee, your constant fidgeting is presenting you as more of a “nervous Nellie.” Don’t let those pesky non-verbals get the better of you and blow your interview!
The All-Important Handshake
A bad handshake will have an impact. Yes, it really can turn an employer off to your candidacy before you even answer one question. As dopey as it may sound, practice shaking hands. There are a lot of bad hand shakers out there. Don’t be one of them. Be the Goldilocks of handshakes, find one that is not too firm, and not too soft – but just right.
Smart devices have turned us into hunchbacks slumped over our devices oblivious to the world around us. Straighten yourself up – sit up, chin up, and lean forward slightly to show interest. Otherwise, your bad posture will convey a lack of enthusiasm that employers will run from.
On the other end of the spectrum, excessive gesturing can make you seem too excitable and unfocused. Less movement often conveys a sense of quiet confidence – a steady as you go demeanor is the goal. Occasionally, using your hands to emphasize an important point can be effective in communicating a strong message, but otherwise, give them rest.
The Close Talker
A good rule of thumb is to remain about two feet apart from the person to whom are you speaking. Otherwise, it’s just awkward and unsettling.
Unless you are vying for a position to stand guard outside a hot nightclub, uncross your arms. It may feel like a more natural way to stand than with your arms at your sides, but you run the risk of appearing defensive and even oppositional.
Itching your nose. Touching your face. Scratching your neck. Twirling your hair. In addition to distracting from the conversation, some of these gestures can project uncertainty, and perhaps even dishonesty. So unless you want to be perceived as a nervous liar, leave yourself alone!
The Eye Avoider
It’s not a staring contest, but you should be making direct eye contact a majority of the time during your conversation with your interviewer. Lack of eye contact does not instill confidence in what you are saying and you may be seen as a shady character who is hiding the deep, dark secret that you are not qualified for the job.
If it seems like a lot to worry about and you aren’t sure how you come across, conduct a videotaped mock interview. Review it carefully to determine if your non-verbal behavior is sending a different message than the one you intend.
It can be hard work to look relaxed!