Congratulations! You’ve landed a job interview at a company you’ve been prospecting for a while now. You’ve done a great deal of due-diligence on how to convey your skill-sets and why you’d be a great fit for their organization. You’re a great communicator and extremely confident in your ability to land this job. But, what would your body language say? What if I told you that what you said didn’t matter as much as what your body language had to say? In fact, 93% of the way we communicate has nothing to do with words.
Let’s take a look at the different ways our body language can make or break the interview.
Besides your resume, this is going to be the first impression the interviewer gets of you as a professional. Make sure to land the perfect handshake and set the tone for the interview. This can be done by being the first to reach out, make eye contact, have palm-to-palm contact and give a firm grip. But not too firm! Always shake hands at the end of the interview too!
Anyone who knows standard etiquette understands it’s polite to look people in the eyes when you’re spoken to or speaking to someone. However, you need to find a balance so you don’t seem like you’re staring or no making eye contact at all. This can come across as you being disinterested or inattentive. Eye contact is essential, especially when you’re meeting someone for the first time. If you’re interviewing with more than one person, you need to sort of “entertain” everyone with a little bit of eye contact. This can be achieved by slowly scanning the room as you answer the questions completely and concisely.
Sit up straight with shoulders back, facing straight ahead towards the interviewer(s). You will naturally exude confidence and it encourages direct eye contact. Slouching during an interview can be easy and not as noticeable as you think, especially if the chair has arms. Leaning from side to side can come across as a lack of confidence or that you’re nervous. It’s best to place both feet on the floor but if you must cross your legs, do so at the ankles. Crossing your legs with your ankle over the knee comes across as too casual.
According to Patti Wood, a body language expert, there’s actual science behind keeping your feet planted on the ground. “It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult to answer highly complex questions unless both of your feet are on the ground,” Wood says. “It has to do with being able to go back and forth easily between the limbic reptilian brain to the neocortex brain.” So to help you nail those tough interview questions, keep those feet on the ground and sit up straight!
There are a few different points to talk about in relation to your hands. In general, it’s okay to use hand gestures if they’re not belligerent or distracting. Use hand gestures as a natural way to get your point across. Make sure you watch what you’re doing with your hands. For women, be careful not to play with your hair. This can be a sign of immaturity or unprofessional. Try not to be fidgety by moving in your seat or biting your nails. As much as you can, keep your hands folded in your lap.
There are so many more subtle but important body language cues we can give off without even knowing it. Let this short list be a guide as best practices for a few of the major mistakes interviewees use. Good luck!