The dos and don’ts of job interview body language
Body language is one of those things we often forget during a job interview, despite efforts to make a positive impression. Any yet our body language can be even more revealing than our actual words, with better interviewers being versed in what our major and minor actions and reactions really mean; reading our gestures and movement to get a better idea of what we are feeling and thinking.
With that said, it is quite easy to control your body language and leave a positive impression, it just takes a little bit of knowledge and thought.
Here are a list of do’s and don’ts to help you control and adjust your body language in order to make your job interview a successful one:
Smiling is one of the simplest and most effective body language tricks. While some people find it harder to smile than others, it’s not that difficult to slap on a grin for the sake of winning a job.
Your smiling should commence from the first greeting, making sure to give a nice welcoming smile along with that first handshake and initial eye contact. When you have to force a smile, try to make it a somewhat natural one by relaxing and not trying too hard. Also avoid smiling too much and looking a little creepy!
As a general rule you should try to smile whenever the interviewer does; as well as smiling it’s also important to nod (this is a good way of showing that you are listening and understanding what the interviewer is telling you), and to laugh whenever the interviewer does.
These simply body language techniques show that you have a similar personality to the interviewer and will help to make them like you more.
Don’t get too relaxed
While you want to be relaxed and feel comfortable and confident during your interview, getting too relaxed and slouching is a big no no.
Your sitting position is very important. If you lean or hunch forward too much it gives the impression you are too tense and out of place, while taking the opposite approach and laying back and spreading your legs too wide makes you look over confident and not bothered, or worse, disrespectful.
The trick is to find the right balance between being too relaxed and too tense.To do this always try to be conscious of your posture, keeping yourself stood upright and avoid leaning to one side when standing (often in interviews nervous people will lean slightly towards the door).
When seated, sit up straight and only lean forward a little when you want to show that you are interested or engaged in something the interviewer is saying.
Do make eye contact
Eye contact is extremely important and something you should have little excuse for getting wrong. Making strong eye contact shows that you are actually paying attention (which you should be at all times!), and lets the interviewer know you are interested and engaged in what they are saying.
Making strong eye contact doesn’t mean simply staring soullessly at the interviewer; giving a blank or zombie like expression will only create a negative effect, while too much eye contact will make you look a little strange and creepy.
The right way to give good eye contact is to hold eye contact for just a few seconds at a time, and if there is more than one interviewer make sure to give equal amounts of eye contact to everyone speaking, showing that you are paying attention to them all and value their words equally.
Don’t touch your face
One piece of negative body language many people suffer from is touching their face when nervous or uncomfortable. Playing with your hair and rubbing your nose is also a sign that you are being dishonest. In fact just about all forms of body language which involve touching your face are negative and easy for the interviewer to read.
Touching your neck is also a sign of boredom and disinterest (crossing your arms also gives the same message), so as a general rule try to avoid touching your face altogether. Instead, leave your hands, arms and shoulders relaxed and down, only lifting them to give open and expressive gestures which are positive and enthusiastic.
Do use your hands
As just mentioned, while using your hands negatively should be avoided, you should still make sure to use your hands in a positive way.
There are lots of simple hand gestures and movements which will create a positive effect, such as leaving your palms facing upwards; suggesting you are honest, open-minded, and sincere when you are talking.
Touching your fingertips together will give the impression that you are sure about something and give a sense of power and authority to your words. All of these are great to use but not so great if you overuse them.
Avoid negative hand movements such as clenching your fists or biting your nails (another big no no).
Don’t move around
Moving around too much gives off very bad body language and is something to consciously avoid. While in most interviews you’ll be seated for most of the time, if you are not seated be conscious of any movements you make, and avoid moving nervously.
When seated try to avoid shaking your leg, tapping you feet or fingers, or jiggling them in any way, and generally try to keep relaxed and still.
Tapping and jiggling movements suggest a sense of impatience or boredom and is usually noticed and noted by the interviewer.
If you have a habit of doing this make sure to keep both feet firmly on the ground, which will also help give you better posture.
Do: React to body language
One simple body language trick is to mirror the body language of your interviewer. Not only will this insure your body language is positive (assuming theirs is) but it will also help give the impression that you have commonality with the interviewer and make them like you more.