Interviews are nerve-wracking experiences. Your potential employer is grilling you about your resume, your experience, and even your personality. You know everything about you is being scrutinized. That means you need to focus on what you say when you answer questions.
But have you thought about what your body is saying during your interviews? Body language is almost as important as the words that come out of your mouth or what you’ve written in your cover letter. Here are some tips to manage body language in your next job interview.
5. Sit Back in Your Chair
You already know you don’t want to slouch or lean back in your chair during your interview; that posture can make you appear sloppy, casual, or even uncaring and disinterested. Rather, you want to sit straight up.
But you should also sit all the way back in your chair, so that you’re pressed up against the back. Why? There’s good reason: Someone who is sitting on the edge of the seat appears nervous and flight, as though they are ready to run away! Sitting all the way back makes you appear more confident (and it can help you keep that upright posture too).
4. Keep an Eye on Things
In a job interview, your interviewer is meeting you for the first time too. One of the first things people do when they meet is attempt to determine if the other is trustworthy. Making direct eye contact is important for that reason. People say that liars can’t “look you in the eye,” so meeting the interviewer’s gaze unabashedly is great way to communicate that you are an honest and trustworthy person.
Too much direct eye contact, however, can make others uncomfortable. Have you ever had someone stare at you? You may begin to shift nervously. You might look down or somewhere else in the room simply to avoid the person’s gaze. Be sure to look around the room instead of simply staring your interviewer dead in the eye.
3. Talk to the Hand
Your hands are an important part of your body language in any job interview. What you do with them says a lot about you. First and foremost, you should shake hands with your interviewer. This is a great way to greet people; a firm, confident grip speaks volumes about you.
Hands can also be awkward, however; many people don’t know what to do with them when they’re talking. Avoid stuffing them in your pockets, but avoid gesturing wildly; both say the wrong things about you.
While some people maintain that some gesturing is good, too much is distracting and can make you appear overly dramatic. Some experts recommend steepling your hands in front of you, which communicates confidence to those around you. Others suggest you should show your palms from time to time, which indicates you are open and honest—you have nothing to hide.
This is the simplest tip on the list, but nodding is an effective way of communicating that you are both listening and understanding what your interviewer says. Engaging in active listening is important, both in a job interview and later on in meetings and conversation with co-workers.
Nodding indicates you are actively engaged in the conversation, you are listening to your interviewer, and you understand what he or she says.
1. Walk the Walk
In an interview, you want to appear confident, not nervous or inexperienced (even though you might be). The way you walk says a lot about how you’re feeling—even if you don’t realize it.
You shouldn’t strut or stroll, and you don’t need to power walk or skip up to the front desk, but you should walk with confidence. Walk straight up, at a reasonable pace. Too slow and you may seem like a dawdler; too quick and you may seem nervous or rushed.