We’ve all been there… Heart thumping, palms sweating, body fidgeting. When you think about it, the feelings one would get watching a suspense thriller, can also be described for a job interview!
No matter who you are – entry-level go-getter, experienced specialist, or CEO material – job interviews are stressful. Chances are, you’ve spent the week leading up deliberating, swapping, and totally discarding outfit choices, and of course, prepping your answers to the most common questions. But have you considered your non-verbal communication? If you’ve ever heard the saying “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”, it’s never been more important than in an interview. If, through nerves, we give away non-verbal signals that suggest we are not confident, the impact of what we actually say will negatively affected.
A blur of blinks, taps, jiggles, pivots and shifts ... the body language of a man wishing urgently to be elsewhere - Edward R. Murrow
So what are the most common ways our body language can let us down in an interview? We asked Lynda Murphy, our resident career expert (and National Career Services Manager) on her advice for improving body language in an interview.
First impressions count
From a survey of 2000 hiring managers, 33% said they know within 30 seconds if they will hire you or not. Talk about pressure! Make this knowledge work for you and enter the interview composed and confident. Make your entrance with a smile on your face, stand up tall and make eye contact. Look happy to be there.
It’s all in the eyes
Failure to make eye contact is considered to be a major interview failure so take a deep breath, open those peepers and connect.
On the defense
Crossing your arms may be comfortable but it’s seen as a defensive stance which may suggest that you are lying or even aggressive. Be sure to keep your hands firmly in your lap, unless, of course, you are using them to express a point and demonstrate your enthusiasm.
Limp lettuce or bone crusher
A handshake is part of the all-important first impression. What does your handshake say about you? Too firm and you may be seen as cocky and overbearing, particularly if you are male and shaking the hand of a female. Limp lettuce/lingering too long, you may be seen as unassertive and insecure. There’s no denying a handshake is an important part of any interview so take some time to practice so yours to make it a dealmaker, not a dealbreaker.
Cool, calm and collected
Have you ever caught yourself in interview touching your nose, rubbing the back of your neck or crossing your legs and shaking one over the other? Not only is fidgeting distracting, it suggests you are uncomfortable. Why not practice at home with a ‘mock interview’? Sit down in front of a mirror, or with a friend, and practice giving your interview answers. Perhaps even film and play back? What do you notice? Once you are aware of what your personal non-verbal signals are, you will find it easier to nip it them in the bud come interview day.
Want more expert job-related advice? Head on over to Career Services to access our Careers Toolkit!
- Career Development
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