Job interviews can be tricky things to grasp: you have to say and do the right things to even be considered.
Often during our preparations, however, we forget about one of the most important factors to making a good first impression, that being body language.
So, how can you use your body language to increase the chances of getting a call back?
How to make an entrance
Before a job interview, there’s the urge to think only about what’s going to happen in the room between you and your employer. But that can lead to you dismissing the other people you interact with when you step into the reception area.
Believe it or not, this can affect your interview, even though it hasn’t even started yet! So, before you take off in your car, make sure you’re ready, and show your confidence as soon as you walk through that front door. That means good posture, smile, and eyes forward.
Meeting your interviewer for the first time
So your future (potential) employer has come over to greet you, now what do you do? Well, of course we all know that eye contact is important, but I’d say that how you maintain that eye contact is even more important. Have you ever had someone look directly into your eyes and nowhere else? Even if you haven’t, you can certainly imagine how uncomfortable that may be. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep eye contact; all you have to do is make sure it’s natural. Take notice of the other features of the interviewer’s face, not to mention their own body language.
Next comes the handshake. A lot goes into a good firm handshake: you don’t want it to be too strong, or too light, and you have to place your hand in an appropriate position. There are some people who do two-handed handshakes. If you’re one of those people, don’t do it in this situation, as it can come across as an attempt to dominate. In fact, it’s best to convey the opposite, by having your palm slightly upwards when you go in for the shake.
Top Body Language Mistakes During an Interview
Failure to make eye contact
Failure to smile
playing with something on the table
fidgeting too much
crossing arms over chest
playing with hair or touching face
handshake that is too weak
using too many hand gestures
handshake too strong
In the interview room
Be mindful of your body posture when you sit down, since it’s a major non-verbal way of communication. Sit at the very back of the chair, and make sure that your arms aren’t crossed or covering your torso in any way. You want to appear open, though make sure that you don’t get too comfortable. You still want to remain professional. Keep both feet firmly on the ground, stay alert and keep your back straight.
During the interview
As you are talking and listening, you want to show that you’re engaged in the interview. The best way to show that through your body language is, of course, to genuinely feel confident – that is to practice answers to common job interview questions. But if you want to be entirely sure that you are making a good impression on your interviewer, here are some other tips for positive non-verbal communication.
When you’re talking, moving your hands about conveys a more natural and confident way of speaking. That doesn’t mean you should wave your hands around frantically because that can obviously be interpreted as nerves. Also, like the handshake, keep in mind that when you are making these gestures, that you keep your palms exposed. Again, it’s associated with honesty and openness.
When you’re listening to your interviewer, nodding and leaning forward shows your engagement, and that you’re interested in what they’re saying. However, you also need to respect your interviewer’s personal space, so avoid getting too close to them when you lean in.
How to Make a Good Impression – A Quick Checklist
Keep your head up and posture tall when entering
Confidence in your mannerisms can translate as confidence in your future position to your hiring manager
Mirror your interviewer
By reflecting the emotions and body language you see, you build rapport with your interviewer – i.e. if your hiring manager is discussing something with you that they are excited about, mirror their enthusiasm with your own body language
Show that you are listening
By leaning in and maintain natural eye contact, while also verbally reiterating what your interviewing is saying from time to time, shows your interviewer that you are both on the same page and that you understand what they are saying to you
Leave on a positive note
Once the interview is over, don’t rush out of the room – gather your things coolly, shake each persons’ hand, thank your interviewer for the opportunity and make sure you smile on your departure
Leaving the interview room
Once the interview is done, shake hands with your hiring manager once again as you stand up from your chair. Your walk out should be the same as your walk in: with your head up high and shoulders pulled back. Even if you think you did poorly, you should always be proud of the fact that you finished an interview.
Some final words before you go
It’s okay to feel nervous. Generally, interviewers understand that this is a nerve-wracking experience. Sometimes, nerves can be seen as a good thing, since it shows that you care about the job. That obviously doesn’t mean you should let them run wild. Hiring managers are looking for people who can stay relaxed when they talk to a variety of people, after all.
The bottom line here is that you shouldn’t focus on every little fidget you do when you’re nervous. Instead, practice what you’re going to say and notice what you’re communicating non-verbally as you do, ideally with the aid of a mirror or a friend.
That way, you’ll understand what you’re conveying and change it accordingly, giving you a much desired advantage.