Has anyone ever told you to “smile, it’s not that bad” when you thought you were looking perfectly pleasant? Maybe you have a nervous twitch or tic that you don’t even know about? When it comes to job interviews, you need to be aware of just what your body language is saying – because it could affect your chances of getting the job.
Use your body language to make a good first impression in your interview
Popular wisdom says that you have seven seconds to make a first impression – although some would say the time required is even shorter than that. Most would agree, however, that you need to start dazzling from the moment you walk into the interview room. So stand tall, pull your shoulders back, and prepare to impress.
It starts with the first shake
One of your first opportunities to impression-manage at an interview is when you first greet your interviewer with a handshake. It will send an immediate message and you want it to be a good one – so that means no dead fish and no vice-like grip. Ensure you shake the hand of every person on the interview panel, looking each interviewer in the eye as you do so.
Know how to use your hands
Just as a handshake is important, so is the use of your hands throughout the duration of the interview. Avoid fidgeting or nervous gestures; instead, simply rest your hands in an upright position in your lap if you’re unsure of what to do.
Keeping your hands in check may be difficult for some but if nothing else, avoid finger pointing at all costs.
Learn the value of a smile
A job interview can be a serious business but don’t be afraid to smile, and even laugh if the situation calls for it. By doing so, you’re likely to loosen up and be more comfortable for the remainder of the interview. It will also help you build a connection with your interviewer.
Robert Provine, Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland, studied the effects of smiling and laughing and showed that they can be used as valuable relationship building tools. He also discovered that smiles are almost always reciprocated, which in turn creates positive feelings in participants. So smile at your next interview and you may have even more reasons to smile afterwards if they offer you the job.
Avoid arm-crossing at all costs
Make sure you sit in an upright and attentive position for the duration of your interview. While it may be a comfortable position for many, resist the urge to fold your arms and cause unnecessary barriers between you and your interviewer.
Crossing your arms can give off the wrong impression, but there’s more to it than that. Not only is this gesture blocking you physically, a study documented by Pease International showed that subjects who listened to a series of lectures with their arms folded retained 38 per cent less information than those who listened with their arms unfolded. In other words, uncrossing your arms also unblocks your mind – so at your next job interview, don’t forget to keep your arms and mind open.
There seem to be a lot of rules when it comes to using body language to your advantage, but these key points will help you leave a positive impression at your next interview and beyond.