Hiring managers aren’t just listening to what you say during interviews. They’re also observing how you walk, talk, sit, and use your hands, among other body language expressions. CareerBuilder notes that there are lots of ways to negatively affect your chances of landing a job without saying a word, including weak — or overly strong — handshakes, and using too many hand gestures.
With that in mind, before you take that next job interview, make sure you follow these seven tips so you can display the proper body language to your prospective employer.
Make and maintain eye contact
Looking someone directly in the eye when you’re speaking establishes your self-confidence. It’s why the most powerful and successful business leaders in the world are known for the impressions they make during face-to-face meetings.
“Their gaze never wavers from the eyes of the person they’re speaking with, making them feel as if they’re the most important person in the room,” explains Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of the BNI.com, the world’s largest networking organization. “The good news is, with a little practice, anyone can do this. Make good eye contact throughout the conversation. Practice with your family.”
This doesn’t mean you have to stare the person down like a contemplative serial killer, but maintaining intermittent eye contact will work in your favor.
You may be nervous on your job interview, but it’s important to smile during the conversation; smiling conveys that you’re a pleasant person who appreciates the opportunity. Smiling while speaking also enhances your tone of voice, making you more likable; telemarketers often put mirrors on their desks for this very reason.
Watch your hands
During presentations, restless movement, flailing arms, and head shaking will come across as a lack of confidence. The same goes for interviews. Don’t fidget or wring your hands. And don’t play with a pen, a paper clip or any other object. You’ll not only come across as unsure of yourself, but you’ll also run the risk of losing the audience altogether because they’re focused on your agitation instead of the information.
Stand up tall
Even a smartly-dressed individual with a slouch makes a poor impression on an interviewer. You want to look determined and energetic — but that can only be achieved by a tall-and-proud posture. Your can-do attitude will shine through with your shoulders back and your head held high.
“You don’t necessarily have to stick your chest out like a banty rooster, but a little puff of the chest can add an air of confidence to your presentation that makes a world of difference,” adds licensed speech pathologist Marissa Artman.
However, you’ll want to heed this warning from Nate Masterson, HR manager for Maple Holistics, of a common mistake many of us make: “Putting all your weight on one leg when you’re standing shows the world that you cannot stand on your own,” he says. “You’ll feel a lot more confident and capable if you stand on two, straight legs.”
Keep an open body posture
Having a closed off body posture like crossed arms, turned away torsos, or even hands in pockets suggests that you’re closed off from a conversation, or feel unsure of yourself.
“Instead, keep your hands down at your sides, or loosely behind your back,” suggests Artman. “And if possible, keep your hands free of clipboards and coffee mugs that can block contact between you and another person during handshakes.”
Engage your head to show interest
Nod affirmatively during the conversation to let the interviewer know you’re listening and understand what they’re saying. Sit firmly in the chair with proper posture. This should come naturally if you’re engaged in the situation. Just make sure you don’t nod so often that you become a bobble head.
Know your audience
Most Americans generally understand what constitutes good business-appropriate body language in our country, but that doesn’t always translate universally.
“If you do business outside the United States and Canada, it’s important to be aware of body language differences across cultures,” Dr. Misner explains. “For example, sustained eye contact in the Middle East can mean sincerity and trust — but in Africa and Asia, it can mean a threat. So be sure to read up on body language cues for the country you’re working in to make sure that your body language translates appropriately.”
Mikey Rox is personal finance expert and award-winning journalist whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He enjoys working from the beach with his dog Jaxon. Connect with Mikey on Twitter @mikeyrox.
Photo Credit: laverrue