When preparing for a job interview, candidates often spend the bulk of their time rehearsing what they intend to say. They diligently review lists of sample questions, practicing their answers and trying to anticipate any curve balls the interviewer may throw their way. Granted, this preparation is imperative. However, much of an interviewer’s first impression is formed before a candidate even opens their mouth. If they sit down and immediately cross their arms, begin fidgeting, refuse to make eye contact, or absent-mindedly pick lint from their clothes, they are likely to project a nervous, insecure, and possibly even aggressive first impression.
College Journal reports that body language “comprises 55 percent of the force of any response, whereas the verbal content only provides 7 percent.” In other words, non-verbal communication carries more weight than the spoken word. When participating in a job interview, therefore, it’s critical to project a confident, competent, and friendly persona throughout both word and deed.
Here are a few helpful tips:
- Maintain Eye Contact – Looking the interviewer in the eye demonstrates that you are paying attention. Be careful to blink and look away occasionally, however, such as when you are contemplating an answer. Staring incessantly into the other person’s eyes can turn creepy after a while. Also, make sure your eyes don’t begin to drift downward or you may inadvertently convey a lecherous intent.
- Get Comfortable – But Not Too Comfortable – The way you sit conveys a great deal. Experts often advise interviewees to sit tall and erect. If you stiffen up too much, however, you will appear nervous or phony. Don’t be afraid to sit back and relax into your chair. Be careful not to slouch, however. Not only will you appear tired, you’ll come across as disrespectful, too.
- Use Your Arms and Hands Wisely – Greet your interviewer with a firm handshake, but stop short of crushing the bones in their fingers. As the interview progresses, keep your arms uncrossed and use your hands to emphasize what you are saying. Don’t gesture too wildly, however, and never point. World leaders may get away with such, but it is generally perceived as aggressive. Keep your palms turned upwards. It connotes warmth and friendliness.
- Keep Your Emotions in Check – At the close of the interview, look your host in the eye, thank them sincerely, and shake their hand once again. Confidently leave their office and make your way to the door. No matter how well – or how badly – you think it went, refrain from displaying any emotion until you are safely out of the building.