Body language speaks volumes at a job interview. Everything from your handshake, eye contact, and how you move your extremities when you talk, to your posture when sitting can reveal a lot about you to the hiring manager sitting across from you.
Related: 3 Areas Job Seekers Make The Biggest Mistakes
If you want to make the right impression, be aware of your own body.
1. Eye Contact.
Eye contact can help you build a personal connection with the interviewer. It is especially important at the time of the handshake and when the interviewer is speaking or asking a question. By giving eye contact, it communicates that you are confident, listening, and engaged. However, there has to be a balance with breaks in between eye contact. If you stare too long, it can come across as being overly aggressive and you may begin to look crazy and creepy.
The handshake is a professional point of contact, so how you do it sends a very important message. To come off as confident, you want to be firm, but not overpowering. And on the other end, if your handshake is limp like a dead fish, the interviewer may sense you lack confidence and interest. Women tend to overcompensate and shake hands too firmly so practice on you family members as this is where you make a first impression.
No matter what you say, if your expression does not match the message, it will not come across. For example, at the time of the first handshake at the job interview, exhibit a smile when you say, “It’s nice to meet you.” When you are talking about one of the most exciting projects you were involved in, your expression should match that, otherwise you’re giving the hiring manager a mixed message.
The way you sit can impact how others want to communicate with you. If you are leaning back all relaxed, you may leave the hiring manager thinking you’re lazy and not serious about the meeting. If you lean too forward and invade their space, it can come off as too aggressive. What you want is a neutral position – sit straight up on the chair with a slight lean forward to express you’re interested and engaged. You also don’t want to be stiff in posture. It’s unnatural and can make it hard for others to communicate with you comfortably. A good technique is to slightly mirror the interviewer’s posture.
Many security guards have their arms across their chest. It signals that they are in defense mode. This is the same message that’s sent to the hiring manager when they see a job candidate with arms across their chest. You want to be viewed as approachable, so it’s best to leave your hands to your sides when standing or on your lap/knees when sitting.
6. Excessive Nodding Or Shaking.
Yes, you want to communicate agreement and understanding, but excessive nodding of the head can be seen as being overly agreeable, and you end up looking like a bobble head. One or two nods tagged with a smile is all you need. Along the same lines, be watchful of your extremities like leg kicking (often a result of nerves) or flaring arms as you talk. Maintain self-control of your extremities, keeping your feet flat on the ground and using your hands only when trying to make a gesture.
To better prepare for the next job interview, consider doing a video recording of a mock interview. You’ll see habits in your body language that you can practice to correct before the next real job interview!
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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