Use Body Language to Get the Job You Want

By Nicola Stretton

Use Body Language to Get the Job You Want

A s soon as you meet, or even see, a person, you form an impression of them based on their posture, gestures and facial expressions.  We all do it, sometimes without even realising.  This is why it is important to make a good first impression on the person who will be interviewing you.  Within the first 60 seconds of meeting you, the interviewer will have formed an impression about what type of person you are and the kind of employee you would make, and 55% of this will be based solely on your body language.  Here are some tips to make that impression a good one.

Before the Interview
First of all, relax.  Think positive thoughts and you are more likely to come across as a positive, confident person.  Dress smartly, as your appearance is one of the first things an interviewer will notice about you.

The Entrance
Stand up straight, and walk in with your shoulders back and your head up (not back though, as this conveys arrogance).  Try to avoid slowing down as you walk into the room as this suggests fear and uncertainty.  Offer your hand for the interviewer to shake.  You should have a firm handshake (practice this on friends if you have to) and a warm smile, as both portray confidence and lack of fear.  A real smile shows that you are relaxed, whereas a fake smile conveys nervousness and is usually really obvious.  Opening your coat or jacket as you sit down communicates that you, too, are open.  If you are offered a drink, accept it - this creates a rapport with the interviewer.

The Interview
Posture is important.  You should be sitting well back in your seat, making sure not to slouch or lean back.  Sit up straight and lean forward slightly, but not too much.  Sitting at a slight angle is non-confrontational.  Sitting at too much of an angle conveys discomfort and distrust.  Two of the most common defensive signals are crossing your arms and legs, and people quickly pick up on these. 

Another important issue is eye contact.  Looking someone in the eye shows confidence in yourself and trust in the other person.  However don’t overdo it, as excessive eye contact or staring will make the other person uncomfortable.  Use more eye contact when listening than when talking, and when you look away, look down.  Looking up will make you come across as bored…and rude.

Your hand gestures should be open and expansive to include the interviewer in what you are saying.  Palms facing upwards express honesty.  When you are not using your hands to make a point, they should be resting in your lap.  There are some gestures you should avoid, and these include banging your fists on the table and pointing your finger to make a point.  These will be perceived as too aggressive.  Also try to avoid touching your face, neck and hair, playing with jewellery and biting your nails as these are all signs of nervousness.

You should use animated facial expressions to show that you are enthusiastic.  People who are uncomfortable in a situation often adopt an expressionless face, which subconsciously warns people to keep away.  Do not frown; this is seen as distrusting.  Biting the lips suggests nervousness or fear and should definitely be avoided.  Tilting your head to the side means you are interested and receptive.  Tilting it forward shows agreement and attention to what is being said.

Something else you might like to try is a little trick called mirroring.  When we are in sync with someone, we often subconsciously copy their actions.  For example you could be in a bar with a date, and find that you lean forward when they do, or both take a sip of your drink at the same time.  You can recreate this rapport in an interview, but be subtle or you could end up looking ridiculous.  Do not copy everything the interviewer does, or they will start to wonder what’s wrong with you.  Instead, wait until they make a small gesture like uncrossing their legs, wait a few seconds, and do it yourself.

Learning the art of body language can take a while.  Start off by trying to identify and eradicate the bad things you do, and gradually incorporate some good ones.

Good luck!



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