When you interact with other people, there are two ways your message comes through to them. You consciously convey your message through your words. Your body language unconsciously sends signals as well. Body language is comprised of the nonverbal gestures and mannerisms that may indicate a person's true feelings.
Your body language can reveal things that your words do not. In fact, it may reveal much more than you intend to reveal. In the simplest terms, if you say you are happy but have a big frown on your face, your body language—the frown—will show your true feelings. While most people manage to exert a great deal of control over the words they let cross their lips, many have difficulty when it comes to keeping their body language in check.
Participate in videotaped mock job interviews and analyze your body language afterward. Once you are able to see how you interact with others, you can work on identifying and eliminating any undesirable behaviors that may be distracting in a job interview.
You may think all this talk about body language is just a bunch of nonsense. However, you must pay attention to what your body language seems to reveal even if you question whether there is any truth to it. Many interviewers are trained to look for even the subtlest nonverbal cues and interpret what they mean. Whether these interpretations are correct is irrelevant; what the interviewer believes is what counts. Read the following section carefully. If you have a habit of doing any of the following behaviors or something else that may make you appear anxious or disinterested, you need to extinguish it.
Stay Caim—or at Least Look That Way
A job interview is very stressful for many people. Your anxiety may be brought on by the fact that a job interview is a very unnatural situation. How often do you sit across from another person while he fires a series of questions at you?
It is disconcerting to be put under a microscope by another person, especially when your livelihood may depend on the outcome of that person's research. Since one of your goals on a job interview is to appear confident, the last thing you want to do is let your body language betray your anxiety.
Most people have some sort of behavior that appears when they are feeling anxious. One person may twirl the end of her hair or chew her bottom lip, another may wring his hands, and someone else may twist a ring around her finger or play with a pendant. Try to identify your own individual anxious behavior and keep it in check during the interview.
What to Do with Your Hands and arms
Many people do not know what to do with their hands and arms during an interview. Should you clasp them together or keep them at your sides? Should you hold a pen to keep your hands occupied? Should you keep your arms folded across your chest?
The best thing to do with your hands is to let them rest in your lap. You may have them clasped together, as long as you don't clasp them too tightly and appear to be trying to hold them still. Folding your arms across your chest is often seen as an indication that you are closing yourself off or putting up a barrier. Since you want to appear open and approachable on a job interview, you should avoid doing that.
Holding a pen is not necessarily bad, but be careful not to fiddle with it. Remember not to point or clench your hands into fists. Also avoid covering your mouth with your hand or touching your face when you speak.
If you tend to be shy or know that making eye contact tends to be a problem for you, you can practice making eye contact when you talk to people you are very comfortable with; for example, friends and family. Graduate to making eye contact with the cashier in the supermarket or the bank teller. Soon you should be able to accomplish this in all situations.
Make Eye Contact
If you have ever taken a public-speaking class, you no doubt discussed how important it is to make eye contact. If you avoid making eye contact, the interviewer may jump to the conclusion that you are not being truthful about something. That, of course, is the last thing you would want an interviewer to determine from your body language. He may also be wary of hiring someone who appears to have difficulty carrying on a conversation, which is another impression you must avoid making.
Sit Up Straight
How you sit during an interview is very important. Think back to when you were a child and your parents and teachers told you to sit up straight. They were not kidding. Good posture helps you look confident. Slouching makes you look lazy and bored.
Sitting up straight also makes it easier to breathe, as any yoga instructor will tell you. Many people tend to forget to breathe when they are in a stressful situation, and they let out a huge sigh when they remember. This is not a good idea during an interview.
It is preferable to keep your feet flat on the floor, but you can also have them crossed at the ankles. Do not cross your legs at the knee or have your ankle resting on your opposite knee. You should lean forward slightly. This shows that you are an eager participant in the conversation.
Another important thing to think about is the handshake. The opportunity for a handshake presents itself at two points in a job interview. The first time is when you meet the interviewer. The other is at the end of the interview when you are getting ready to leave.
Some men get all wishy-washy when it comes time to shake hands with a woman. While it is true that a woman's hands may be more delicate than a man's, it is unlikely that your handshake will cause any damage. If you think it might, then you need to loosen up, whether you are shaking a man's or a woman's hand.
The moment when a handshake can take place can be somewhat awkward; for instance, if you put out your hand and the gesture is not reciprocated. However, if the interviewer puts out her hand and you are not ready to shake her hand at that moment, you will be putting her in an awkward situation. That is certainly something you want to avoid.
Therefore, while you do not want to initiate the handshake, make sure you are ready for it by keeping your right hand free at your side, ready to move into the handshake position. Don't hold anything in your right hand as you enter and leave the office. When you do shake hands, your handshake should be firm, which demonstrates that you are confident.