Body Language Never Lies: The Importance of Body Language in Landing Your Dream Job
Let’s face it, when you are being interviewed for a job you are essentially being judged from the moment you walk in the door. How well you can communicate your enthusiasm for the job you seek is just as important as explaining your experience. What most people do not understand is that non-verbal communication accounts for the majority of the information that you are relaying to the listener. In fact, CareerCast.com reports that many studies indicate body language accounts for 55% of any response, while your verbal response accounts for just 7%. The remaining 38% is communicated through the tone of your voice, inflection, pauses, and sighs you give off when answering a question.
In other words, even if your spoken answers convey intelligence and confidence, your body language may say the exact opposite. Many people discount the importance of job interview body language because they have been trained to place more emphasis on spoken words instead. But, a skilled interviewer knows to look for body language which contradicts the spoken words. Therefore, it is just as important to practice and master your mannerisms as it is to practice the spoken answers to commonly asked interview questions.
According to the public speaking expert Matt Eventhoof, every person has physical habits which include fidgets, grooming gestures or postural tendencies like slouching. Normally, these habits have no impact on daily life. But during a job interview, the body language you portray could be the difference between landing the job, and not being considered at all. So it is important to know your body language, and what it may say to the interviewer.
Negative Body Language to Avoid
■ Do not slouch. Lounging with arms and legs dangling will suggest you are a little too relaxed about an interview you should be taking seriously. Slouching or leaning over in the chair may also send the message that you are disinterested in the job or lazy.
■ Crossing your arms can be interpreted as defensive.
■ When you are nervous, your body shows your nerves in different ways. Frowning at a difficult question or at the wrong time can be a tell tale sign that you are having a difficult time answering the question. Also, a nervous laugh or tick can show your nerves as well. Be conscious of your facial expressions and mannerisms and try to control them during the interview.
■ Try not to show how tense you are. Tightly clutching a handbag or briefcase suggests a nervous candidate, not a confident, cool-headed character.
■ An aggressive handshake or an iron grip can imply arrogance, but a limp handshake might suggest weak character. However, a firm handshake can relay confidence and a willingness to engage in communication.
■ Avoid distracting body movements. Beware of moving your feet up and down repeatedly in a nervous manner. This is a sign of boredom, even if you do not mean it to be.
■ Resist the urge to touch your face or play with your hair when you speak, as this suggests you are lying.
■ Avoid distracting facial expressions which contradict the information you are stating.
Positive Body Language
■ Show them you know what you are talking about – touch your fingertips together to convey authority.
■ Your physical gestures should be open and expressive. You want to try to involve the interviewer in what you are saying. Keep palms up and open to suggest honesty, and avoid pointing or banging fists on the table to emphasize a point.
■ Demonstrate curiosity and enthusiasm while your interviewer is speaking. Making direct eye contact and leaning slightly forward are two of the best cues.
■ Subtly imitate or mirror your interviewer’s positive body language and mood to quickly build a rapport. You should adjust to the people and atmosphere of the room.
Maintain Good Eye Contact
It is worth mentioning again that during the interview you should maintain good eye contact with the interviewer. If there is more than one interviewer, you should address each one as you answer each question. You may not know which interviewer will have the deciding vote in hiring you. Therefore, it is important that you never ignore anyone that may be in the room during the questions.
Even if one of the interviewers remains silent, it is a good practice to maintain eye contact with them as well, and be sure to address everyone when providing your answers. If you remain focused on only one person, it could be seen as being rude or disrespectful. So establishing direct eye contact with all of the members of the panel throughout the interview will engage everyone and appear more genuine. You should frame your response to not only address the question asked but to deliver the core message. Consequently, you will be able to project a better understanding of your answer if you relay the message with good eye contact to the entire panel.
Dress for Success
Understand that your interview actually begins before you enter the room. The first impression is a lasting one. This is why you must present yourself in the most positive ways from the very start. Even your behavior in the reception area may be observed. Dressing for success is also a way of presenting yourself in a professional manner. Wearing appropriate business attire is an important way to express that you are serious about landing the job you seek. Your clothes tell the interviewer that you mean business. After all, you are there to get a job and should want to be taken seriously. There are few better ways to initially impress a potential employer than dressing for success.
Close with a Firm Handshake and a Thank You
Leaving the interview on a high note is equally important as the first impression you make. One last tip for ending the interview successfully is to close with a firm handshake. You want to leave the interviewer with a lasting impression. Be sure again to make good eye contact. Also, be certain to thank the interviewer for their time and the opportunity to work with them in the future. This also shows that you are contentious in your approach to finding a job.
Remember that your body language says many things about you. It is just as important to practice control over your body language as it is to answer common interview questions. You should practice interviewing in a mirror, or even video your responses to pick up on how others may see you. Doing so could be the difference that sets you apart from the competition.