by Chris Blank, Demand Media
After weeks or even months of searching, and sending out dozens — or even hundreds — of resumes, you’ve finally landed an interview. You’ve practiced your responses to potential interview questions, even the tough ones. Your interview suit is ready and you’ve mapped out the route you’ll take to the interview site. However, your nonverbal gestures — especially the wrong ones — may actually determine whether you receive a job offer.
You may unconsciously fold your arms across your chest during conversation, especially when you are listening rather than speaking. However, folded arms often convey a sense of defensiveness, or even disinterest in the discussion. As a substitute to sitting with your arms folded, practice leaning slightly forward and resting your elbows on the arms of your chair while the interviewer is speaking. Such a posture conveys interest and thoughtful listening. Don’t go overboard, however, and place your elbows on the interviewer’s desk.
It’s natural that you might be nervous, or even anxious, about an important interview. However, fidgeting conveys a totally negative impression. Twirling your hair, tapping your feet or your fingers or swinging your crossed leg back and forth should all be avoided. Don’t sit on your hands to avoid making natural gestures while speaking, just keep your arms rested by your sides. You may cross your legs if that helps you feel more relaxed, otherwise, your feet should be flat on the floor in front of your chair.
Avoiding Eye Contact
You may be naturally introverted, or your cultural background may discourage direct eye contact with people you don’t know well. However, it’s important to maintain some eye contact during an interview. If you completely avoid making eye contact, the interviewer may draw the conclusion that you’re being evasive. If you stare off into space, the interviewer may think you’re not paying attention at all. If it’s difficult to look directly into the eyes of your interviewer, try looking at the bridge of her nose, which gives the impression of making eye contact.
Slouching or Slumping
It’s common to become discouraged by the job search, especially if you’ve been out of work for a long time. Slouching or slumping may reflect the weariness you are experiencing with the job hunting process. However, you must make the effort to sit up straight and hold your head high during an interview. If you have poor posture by habit, practice pulling your shoulders back as you sit or walk. On the other hand, avoid adopting a stiff, military pose — that looks unnatural and your discomfort may distract you from giving your best responses to the interviewer’s questions.
- Forbes: Is Your Body Betraying You In Job Interviews?
- Bloomberg Businessweek: It’s Not Your Mouth That Speaks Volumes
- Quintessential Careers: The Unspoken Secrets of Job Interviewing — How Your Nonverbal Presentation and Behaviors Impact the Impression You Make
- Helpguide.org: Nonverbal Communication — Improviing Your Nonverbal Skills and Reading Body Language
- CareerCast: Job Interview Body Language — Master Your Mannerisms to Find Success
Your body language can be a huge factor is getting or not getting a job. Most of these are common sense, but sometimes nerves can cause you to do something you’re not thinking about. Focus on sitting straight, having good posture and maintaining constant eye contact. This will show you’re engaged in the conversation and frankly, it looks more professional. The old saying is, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This rings true in interviews. If you follow these simple tips, you’ll be on your way to making a good first impression.