Today, with competition at an all time high among job seekers, reading and understanding body language is critical to your success in a job interview. Nonverbal communication equips you to understand what interviewers are thinking, helping you tweak your body language to get them to connect with you … and offer you the job!
1. The All Important Handshake
The handshake reveals a story about each of us. Do you shake hands softly? Do you come in from the top and deliver a “bone crusher”? Body language experts tell us that aggressive people have firm handshakes; those with low self-esteem have limp, “wet fish” handshakes.
A great handshake is an easy three-step process:
· Make sure your hands are clean and adequately manicured.
· Ensure hands are warm but free of perspiration.
· Execute your handshake professionally and politely, with a firm grip and a warm smile.
Ask a friend or family member to critique your handshake.
2. Seeing Eye to Eye
What’s considered an appropriate amount of eye contact may vary in different countries. In North America, 60 percent eye contact is a safe and appropriate amount. Too much or too little eye contact can make hiring managers uncomfortable. Too much eye contact and you may seem too intense; not enough and you risk appearing uninterested.
· When you meet the interviewer, look her right in the eyes, then think to yourself, “Wow, so great to finally meet you!” This will make you smile, and she’ll pick up on your positive mood. When we look at someone we find interesting, our pupils dilate, a phenomenon the other person instinctively picks up on.
· During a job interview, keep your eye contact in the upside-down triangle area of your interviewer’s face: from the left eyebrow, to the nose, back up to the right eyebrow.
Warning: Staring at a person’s lips is considered sexual, while looking at their forehead is considered condescending.
3. Get it Straight
Posture is a critical thing to master on an interview: Get your posture straight and your confidence will rise with it. Next time you notice you are feeling a bit down, pay attention to how you are sitting or standing. Chances are you’ll be slouched over with your shoulders drooping down and inward. This collapses the chest and inhibits breathing, which can make you feel nervous or uncomfortable. Keep your shoulders back and your chest forward. Practice this and notice the difference in how you feel.
Don’t stand with your hands in your pockets.
4. Get a “Head” of the Game
When you want to feel confident and self-assured during an interview, keep your head level, both horizontally and vertically. Also assume this position when your goal is to be taken seriously. Conversely, when you want to be friendly and in the listening, receptive mode, tilt your head just a little to one side or the other, nod slightly to reinforce this.
5. Arms Lend a Hand, Too
Arms offer clues as to how open and receptive we are, so keep your arms to the side of your body. This shows you are not scared to take on whatever challenges come your way.
Quieter people tend to move their arms away from their body less often than outgoing people, who use their arms with big movements. Keep gestures within the frame of your body, or you’ll risk being seen as out of control. Avoid the negative/defensive action of crossing your arms during the interview.
Here are two common perceptions of hand gestures:
· Palms slightly up and outward: open and friendly
· Palm-down gestures: dominant and possibly aggressive
6. Get a Leg up on the Competition
Our legs tend to move around a lot more than normal when we are nervous, stressed or being deceptive. As a result, try to keep them as still as possible during the interview. You should not cross your legs during a job interview, as it creates a barrier between you and the interviewer and may lead to fidgeting. When you cross your ankle at the knee, this is known as the “figure four,” and is generally perceived as the most defensive leg cross.
7. Navel Intelligence
Keep your belly-button in-line with the belly-button of the person you are speaking with (in other words, make sure you are facing them at all times). Doing otherwise suggests you are not fully engaged and perhaps looking for a way out of the conversation.
Increase your awareness of the body language of those around you and your own. It will pay dividends.