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Expert Perspectives and Industry Trends

Body Language – how it can affect your job interview

It’s been said that over fifty percent of communication is non-verbal. Think about that. Over half of what we’re telling someone is being said consciously or unconsciously by our body.

So how can you use that little factoid to increase your chances of a successful interview?

In several ways, actually – all of them aimed at creating connection and being likeable:

Start when you get out of your car in the parking lot. If someone is looking out a window, what will they see? Look confident. Be aware of your posture. Carry minimal belongings that you can hold in your left hand so you right hand is free. Can you imagine how it would look if you’re stumbling towards the building and drop something? Walk confidently. Stand tall.

Greet the receptionist politely. Make eye contact. Sit with both feet on the floor, and again, keep your belongings in your left hand or on the floor so you can shake the hand of whoever comes out to get you. Stay behind them as they take you to your destination.

Shake the interviewer’s hand if it’s someone different and the hands of others in the room if you can do so without making it a big production. If there are too many people, just shake the hands of the people next to you and nod politely at the others. By the way, when you’re offering your hand to shake, offer it with the palm facing up, which indicates you’re open and friendly.

Sit gracefully, don’t fall into the chair. If you have a thin portfolio, you may place it on the desk or table; place your other belongings on the floor so they aren’t in the way of your hands.

Sit up straight. Don’t slouch. Sit far enough away from the table that you can use your hands if you want to make small, unobtrusive gestures. Do not put one arm up on the back of the chair. This can indicate arrogance.

Align your body to directly face the person you’re addressing. It’s been documented that connection decreases when you are at an angle. If you are being interviewed by multiple people, you may need to shift slightly to align yourself as different interviewers engage with you.

Make lots of eye contact. This can be hard for those who are shy, but try to remember that your interviewer is looking to like you and feel connected to you. Don’t stare too hard at someone; that borders on creepy.

Nod when appropriate, but don’t be a bobble-head.

And, smile! Start with a small polite smile. Please don’t start out with the Cheshire cat grin. It looks insincere. Allow your smiles to grow organically.

Study your “resting” face in a mirror before you go. Some people, through no fault of their own, just have a grumpy resting face. If you’re one of those, practice lifting the corners of your mouth slightly. This should turn grumpy into “interested and listening.”

It’s okay to lean forward a little; this indicates interest. Do not cross your arms over your chest; this indicates you’re closed off.

As you can tell, it’s a balancing act and a little bit can go a long way. But if you practice these things, you’ll appear open, honest and engaged; all important impressions to leave with a potential employer.

Stay tuned for utilizing body language for better networking, coming up in a few weeks.

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