There’s already enough to worry about before an exciting interview – the right clothes, the right questions, the right responses…
What about the right body language? If you’ve seen Fox’s Lie to Me, you already understand that body language and facial expressions matter a lot. On the show, they solve murders and kidnappings. For you, they can help you nail an interview and get a job.
Research suggests that between 60 and 70 percent of human communication is nonverbal behavior – in other words, body language. You should know your interview is actually composed of two conversations at the same time: one with words, the other with subtle social cues. What’s unbelievable is that subtle body cues and social signals comprise more of the interviewer’s impression of you than your resume or what you say during the interview.
While you might be ready to explode with anxiety, here are some quick tips on body language to help you play it cool (or at least look like you are) for when the big interview day finally comes knocking.
- Start strong: Your interviewer approaches you in the waiting room. What now? Nothing says confidence like a firm handshake. Grasp their hand without crushing it, smile, make eye contact. Above all, remember to make eye contact – it instantly establishes rapport and conveys mutual understanding and attention. Approach the person with an open stance, which signals friendliness and honesty.
- Maintain Interest: When you sit down to talk, don’t slouch or lean back – both imply disinterest. Sit straight up and lean slightly towards your interviewer, suggesting respect and attentiveness. Be sure to nod occasionally, smile and leave your hands casually in your lap or resting on the arms of the chair. You an also try paying attention to your interviewer’s body language to make sure you are both on the same page.
- Don’t be distracting: By playing with your hair, rubbing or scratching your skin, you may come off as nervous and untrustworthy. Likewise, don’t cross your arms or lean towards the exit – your interviewer might find you standoffish, distant, or disengaged. Keep the focus on the interviewer and what they are saying – people are naturally flattered by attention.
- Remember to relax: Breathe, you’re almost there. Imagine yourself at once alert and at ease. Smile. You look great. Answer a couple more questions and ask a few of your own. Stress shows in your face and throughout your entire body. It’s very difficult to feign relaxation – you actually have to be relaxed. To do this, make sure you practice relaxation techniques regularly.
- End Strong: Wrapping up? Stand up, smile, and shake hands after the interview is over. Be respectful and thank the other person for their time. Exchange the necessary pleasantries and leave slowly, chin up. There is a reason for expressions like “chin up” – our expressions and posture really do indicate important things.
Whether you get the job or not, at least you went in to the interview with style and grace, and communicated your intentions with confidence and professionalism. With a bit of luck, your body language will have been the icing on the cake. Your interviewer will remember you as a confident, assertive, friendly, and honest applicant – all the important things that get you the job.