You’re preparing for an interview (or maybe several). You’ve read up on the latest tips, and you’ve been rehearsing your answers to the most common interview questions. Maybe you’ve even done some research on the company you’re interviewing with, and you’ve come up with a few questions of your own.
In your research, though, did you think much about body language? It’s common for job seekers to focus on what they’re saying with words, but even seasoned candidates think less about what they’re saying with their bodies.
You can send many messages with your posture, your hands, and your face. What should you be aware of during your job interviews?
Your Hands and Arms
Some people complain about not knowing what to do with their hands during job interviews. Some people will hold pens; others will cross their arms or clasp their hands, simply because they don’t know what else to do.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have people who gesticulate wildly—their hands are everywhere as they illustrate every point they make with hand gestures.
It’s important to be aware of what you’re doing with your hands, because you don’t want to be caught at either extreme. Folding your arms could make you appear judgmental or nervous. And holding a pen might seem like a great idea—until you start playing with it.
Similarly, doing too much with your hands is a problem. While most experts agree some gesticulation is a good thing, too much may make you seem overdramatic. Pay attention to how much talking you do with your hands.
How do you usually sit in job interviews? Are you rigidly upright, or do you tend to slump or slouch in your chair? Do you cross your legs, or prop your ankle up over your knee? All of these different postures say something about you. The question is if they’re communicating what you want to say to your interviewers.
Most people recommend sitting up straight and well back in your chair. However, this might seem too formal for some; you might look uncomfortable or nervous. On the other hand, slouching could indicate you feel a little too comfortable—or that you’re bored or not interested in the job.
Try to find a natural sitting position in which you feel comfortable without slouching. A slight forward lean can communicate interest and confidence.
You may not know exactly how expressive you are; relatively few people spend a lot of time talking to themselves in front of a mirror or a camera. But human beings are incredibly expressive—and most people express a lot through their faces. Some people are more expressive than others, but happiness, sadness, and anger all show plainly on your face.
Much like hand gestures, you want to use facial expressions moderately. Smiling, naturally and genuinely, says “I’m friendly” and helps your interviewers feel more at ease. A stony facial expression throughout the interview might say you’re cold and standoffish, but smiling too much can also be off-putting.
Practise in front of a mirror to see how you’re using facial expressions to accompany your words.
Do you cross your legs or ankles? Do you tap your toes or swing your foot to and fro in an interview? Sometimes, this kind of fidgeting is a result of nervousness—but it can also look like impatience or boredom. Do you really want your interviewer to think you’re tapping your foot because you want to get out of the interview as soon as you can?
Try to pay attention to what you do with your feet during an interview. While you may not think the interviewer will notice, it could be distracting—and more noticeable than you think.