It is widely recognised that more than half of your message doesn’t come from the words you say. Communication is both verbal and nonverbal, with your tone and body language having the biggest impact. So if you’re trying to make an impression, it’s critical to consider what your body is saying. Forget to smile, slouch in your chair or fail to make eye contact during an interview, and you could miss out on a job offer. Here are some tips on how you can create winning body language that could land you that job offer.
Looking people directly in the eye conveys confidence, certainty and transparency. It builds a sense of trust and openness and helps develop a personal connection. But don’t forget to break away, holding eye contact too long can come across as aggressive and a little odd. In fact, Netflix has come under scrutiny for new workplace harassment rules that says you can’t look at anyone for more than five seconds because looking at anyone longer is considered “creepy”.
Greet your interviewer with direct eye contact and a firm handshake with just enough pressure to say you mean business without bone crushing. The perfect manoeuvre is to slide your hand into the web of theirs and make palm-to-palm contact. Lock thumbs with the hiring manager and apply similar pressure.
Watch your Tone
When we are nervous, we may find it difficult to control the speed, pitch and volume of our speech. We can come across as hesitant by clearing our throats or using excessive “ums and ahs”. The trick is to the calm that monkey in your mind! Aim for focus and clarity by learning how to relax your thoughts and your voice with your breathing. After each question, get into the habit of taking a deep breath, pausing and then proceeding. It will help make your answers clear and confident.
Just like your parents always told you: sit up straight! Leaning back comes across as lazy or arrogant; leaning forward can look aggressive and slouching looks disinterested. Instead, aim for a relaxed neutral position, sit up straight, but not so straight it looks like you’re craning your neck to the ceiling.
Crossing your arms, and even your legs is one of the most recognised negative body language positions. It can signal that you are defensive, resistant or bored. Even if you find it the most comfortable way to hold your arms, in an interview you want to project openness and build a good relationship.
Don’t be a space invader
Be respectful of the interviewer’s personal space. Stand too close and you’ll make them uncomfortable, stand too far away and you’ll look uncomfortable. Aim for about an extended arm’s length away.
Mind your hands
When we are nervous, our hands like to do all sorts of things like touch our face, play with our hair, drum our fingers or plant themselves in our pockets. By all means, use your hands but keep the movements small and natural.
When the interviewer is speaking make eye contact and listen to what they are saying: don’t jump ahead and assume you know the question. Be mindful of your facial expressions and under no circumstances check your watch or your mobile phone during the interview.
Once you’ve mastered all of that, don’t forget to smile! As much as the interview is about them identifying if you are a good match for the role, it should also be an opportunity for you to discover if the company is a good match for you. While the employer is working out whether you are capable and likeable – you can also be working out whether you think they’re likeable too!