Interview Body Language Guidance
Success loves preparation
Your body language during a job interview has a significant impact the hiring manager’s perceptions of you and consequently, your likelihood of being hired.
How you present your body can convey subtle (and sometimes, not so subtle) cues that project anxiety, hesitation, truthfulness, confidence or even arrogance. Because sales or customer service jobs involve strong interpersonal skills, a hiring manager will be paying close attention to your body language and how it corresponds (or does not correspond) to the questions he or she asks and the answers you give. With this in mind, you should be aware of your own habits and what meaning they give off (with or without you consciously noticing). Additionally, any preparation for a job interview should include a review of good body language and not focus solely on what you say:
When preparing, you want to focus on what you should do and not what you shouldn’t do. No one is perfect. If you slip into some kind of negative pose in the interview, you do not want to lose your cool and let a lot of chatter cloud your thinking. Over the course of an interview, everyone re-adjusts themselves a few times (it would be strange to be perfectly still). Teach your body to recognize good body language. Noticing sensations will bring a greater awareness to what you are doing with your body when your mind is elsewhere, such as answering questions for an interview. Here are the basic elements of good body language:
Eye Contact: Maintain frequent though intermittent eye contact. Sense the comfort level of the interviewer and give them slightly more than equal eye contact. Avoid looking left or up during the interview as it might suggest dishonesty and arrogance.
Posture: Sit up straight but in a relaxed way where your shoulders drop naturally. Avoid closed postures such as hands and legs crossed which create a barrier between yourself and the interviewer. Avoid fidgeting and unnecessary motions, the less movements you make the more confident you will portray.
Angles: Direct your shoulders so that you are facing the manager. You want to appear open and friendly.
Leaning: You don’t want to be a statue; lean in slightly towards the interviewer, suggesting attentiveness and interest in what the interviewer has to say.
Hands and Feet: Find a few comfortable poses before the interview that suggest you are engaged but not aggressive. The more relaxedyou are the better, so feet should be flat on the floor (if possible) and hands should be in a neutral position unless speaking. When you do speak, your gesticulation should be natural and used sparingly. Keep in mind that the position of your hands convey various messages to the people around you; keeping your hands out of sight suggest you have something to hide whilst keeping them on the table implies truthfulness. Similarly, keeping your hands clasped on the table implies agreement with the message conveyed by the interviewer whilst covering your mouth suggests you are holding back an opinion. Avoid touching your nose or ears whilst talking to the interviewer as it might suggest you are lying.
Handshake: Practice your handshake before the interview and make sure that you have a firm grip conveying confidence and authority. Make sure you shake palm to palm, and keep your hand perpendicular to the ground. An up turned palm may subconsciously signal submissiveness - a downward palm, dominance.
Remember to smile.
What to Do the Day of the Interview:
Your body language is a product of your energy level. Hormones like adrenaline can play a significant role in your mental and physical state. So if you have a tension releaser, like exercise, yoga or meditation, it is a good idea to do it the day of an interview (but not overdo it). On the other hand, only drink enough coffee to keep you awake and attentive, as caffeine can wreak havoc with jitteriness.
Staying in Your Chair and Not in Your Thoughts:
Remember an interview is only a conversation, and you have had thousands upon thousands of conversations in your life. If you think of it as a performance, you are likely not to relate to the hiring manager and that will probably affect your body language. So develop a simple system to “check in” on your body. Stay positive every time you straighten yourself in your chair or refocus on the interviewer’s eyes. With body language, things can fall apart for everyone. What makes the difference is whether or not you can pull things back together naturally. That way you let your body language contribute to you getting your next job.
Being prepared will have a positive effect on your anxiety levels, it will help you relax and convey an accurate image of yourself to the interviewer.