Job interviews are stressful. You have to come up with detailed answers to questions that you may have never even considered, you need to make a panel of interviewers like you, and you must prove that you are the best fit for the job, all while looking confident. This is a challenging task for even the most professional among us.
When you consider that 55% of communication is nonverbal, it becomes important to pay attention to your body language. You can spend weeks studying different gestures, determining how employers may perceive them, but the truth is that a lot of it is open to interpretation. However, if you follow these simple guidelines, most employers will be impressed by your professionalism, and will be able to focus on what you are saying:
Maintain eye contact. Employers relate eye contact to both confidence and honesty. Be sure to make eye contact with all of the interviewers, and pay special attention to whoever asked you the question.
Don’t fidget. Your pen tapping, hair twirling, and leg shaking is distracting and it makes you look like you lack confidence. Identify your bad habits and try to keep them under control during the interview.
Sit straight and tall. If you don’t have good posture, straighten it up- at least for the interview. Sit straight in your chair and lean slightly forward. Try to project the image of a professional who is alert and is excited about the position.
Have a good handshake. Your handshake should be firm, but don’t hurt the interviewer. Look the interviewer in the eye and let go of their hand when the time is right. Make sure that your hand is soft, warm, and dry. If you aren’t sure about your handshake, practice it with a friend.
Smile. When you smile during your interview, you appear friendly, confident and relaxed. Keep in mind that in addition to your skills, the employer is also looking at how you will get along with other employees. If you can personally connect with the employer, they are more likely to see you as a good fit for the organization.
You’re not going to get a job based on your smile or the way that you sit. However, many people have lost jobs based on non-verbal communication. If you keep these guidelines in mind, you will prevent the employer from getting distracted by your body language, and you’ll allow them to stay focused on your skills and experience.
(Written by Karen Bivand)