4 Ways to Let your Body do the Talking

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Tired and bored student You’ve hunted, posted, sent resumes and now you’ve gotten the call for an interview. Being prepared means more than a new suit and shoe shine. Body language is one of the most overlooked tools in our arsenal. You can say a lot with your actions, eyes and body. Fifty-five percent of messages processed by the brain are based on a person’s body language.

We are definitely on the upswing of this recession, but we’ve been lingering around the 7.6 percent mark for a while now. Unemployment is still an issue, one that no one wants to be a part of. Here are a few body language tips to consider for that next big interview:

1. Eye Contact

Eye contact is the easiest and most effective way to show confidence. You can tell immediately if someone is engaged in an interaction if he/she maintains eye contact. You are able to gauge interest, honesty and attitude. When you start talking about something you’re passionate about (i.e. your work), your eyes should light up. Being aware of your facial expressions is key to conveying your true feelings.

But eye contact can take a pretty quick turn into creepy land. Eye contact should feel natural and engaging. Don’t turn this into a staring contest. If you haven’t blinked in the last 5 minutes, you’re doing it wrong. Staring, as opposed to eye contact, can be considered an intimidation tacticor just plain weird.

2. Good Posture

Again, this is a great way to display your confidence. A slumped over slouch does not get a second interview. Just like Mom said, “Head up, shoulders back, back straight.” Maintaining a good posture also helps to project your voice, which is another sign of confidence. Clear and audible delivery of your message is vital. Additionally, bad posture makes us think of laziness and that is never a seed you want to plant in an interviewers mind.

3. Fidgeting

You’re nervous and that’s normal, but get a grip. No, literally, get a grip. If you can’t stop fooling around with papers, hair, nails or clothes, make a conscious effort to keep your hands folded in your lap. Be sure to maintain hand gestures, as you don’t want to look too stiff.

A big part of this is often what you chose to wear and how you did your hair. This interview isn’t about your falling sock or the bangs that keep falling in your face, this interview is about you. Make sure you choose hassle-free clothes and hair. Oh, and if your walk resembles that of a baby calf, those are not “power heels.”

4. Crossed Arms

Today, there is more of an emphasis on hiring or attitude rather than aptitude. Cultural fit is more important than ever, and the interviewer is looking for a personality. Crossed arms presents a defensive or closed-off front. You could be the sweetest, most approachable person in the world, but no one would know it if you have your shield up. Additionally, gesturing isn’t as easy when you’re arms are crossed. Hand gestures show that you are engaged and awake.

“There’s an old adage that communication is 7 percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal. If you’re not projecting confidence and competence through your body language, the interviewer may not feel that you’re the right fit for the position,” says Amanda Haddaway, director of HR for Folcomer Equipment Corporation.

This is why we have interviews. Your resume can be perfect, your skills can be on target and your education could be exactly what they’re looking for. But if you don’t have confidence, like-ability and the ability to engage, you could be part of that 7.6 percent of America’s unemployed. Body language is an overlooked, but seriously important part of the interview process.

By Maren Hogan