Job Interviews: The Dos and Don’ts of Body Language

You’ve got great skills and experience, an awesome resume, and even references to prove it, but will your body language betray you in an interview? Whether it’s the inability to make eye contact, a limp handshake, or slouchy, sloppy posture, body language speaks so much louder than words and can kill your chances at convincing an employer you’re the right candidate for the job.

Have you heard the saying, “You never have a second chance to make a good first impression?” This is especially true when it comes job interviews. From the moment you walk in the door, say hello, and extend a handshake, your actions and demeanor are being analyzed and scrutinized by your potential employer. Your first impression will be made in about three to seven seconds.

Studies vary slightly, but it estimated that during a job interview about 93% of how you are judged is based on the tonality of your voice and body language. Hard to believe, but it’s true. Like it or not, you’re going to be quickly judged by your interviewer, so you need to make a favorable impression.

Does it sound like too much pressure? Relax! Here are a couple dos and don’ts to help keep your body language in check:

DO show confidence.

Confidence is very appealing and a must during any job interview. The way you stand and hold yourself, your eye contact and smile, the relaxed nature of your face — all say a lot about what you are feeling.
DON’T fidget.
Actions such as looking around the room, rocking back in your chair, twirling a strand of your hair, drumming your fingers or scratching your… well, anything! — all of these may communicate to your interviewer that you have trouble staying focused.

DO sit comfortably.

Sit up straight and lean slightly forward in your chair. This shows that you are engaged and interested in what you are talking about – be it the responsibilities of the job, or your interviewer’s perspective of the company. If you are comfortable with yourself during the interview, chances are in your favor that your interviewer will be comfortable with you.

DON’T sound too rehearsed.

While you do want to prepare and practice what you want to say during your interview, this isn’t a recital – it’s an interview! Be able to articulate clearly about your accomplishments and experience and how your background can bring value to the position.

DO act natural.

Maintain good eye contact and modulate your voice when you talk. Speak clearly, sound natural, and be conversational! If you’re a “hand talker,” go ahead and use them. Hand gesturing often works in people’s favor, but don’t overdo it. Too much gesturing (unless you are interviewing to be a puppeteer) could work against you.
Don’t cross your arms.
Crossed arms may communicate that you are unfriendly, unapproachable and disengaged. Instead, try pressing your fingers together in front of you to form a steeple suggests attentiveness and thought.

DO take notes.

Taking notes is acceptable, but don’t get buried in details. Take just enough to remind you of what has been discussed, not so much that you lose focus of the interview. Notes will help you remember important components of the interview that you may want to mention in your follow up thank you letter. And by all means, you DO want to send a follow up thank you letter within 24-48 hours of the interview.

And finally, do you best to show your earnest interest in the position and potential hiring organization. No matter how solid your skills for the role, recruiters and managers want to hire people that fit into their corporate culture and people everyone will enjoy working with. If hired, it’s your job to hold your own, produce excellent work, while working well as part of the team.

Good luck – and happy interviewing!

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