First impressions can make or break your chances of getting hired. This goes beyond just the way you are dressed for an interview, your body language and how you carry yourself also counts!
Here are some suggestions to project confidence and poise at a job interview.
Ever wondered why body language matters even before the interview process starts? Although you may not have met your interviewer while waiting at the reception area, chances are the receptionist or your future co-workers are observing you!
So, sit back straight and keep your chin parallel to the ground. Keep your bag at your side when you are seated at the waiting area to make it easier when you need to stand up and greet your interviewer before getting hold of your personal items to proceed to the interview room.
1. The Handshake
Studies have shown that handshake is an important form of non-verbal communication in an interview process. When you meet the interviewer, hold your hand out, make eye contact and smile while introducing yourself. Make that handshake count!
Bear in mind that a bone crushing or weak handshake makes a poor first impression.
2. Work that Walk
How you walk into the interview room says a lot about how interested you are in the job. According to body language expert and author of SNAP — Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma, Patti Wood, “Interviewers often make a hiring judgment within the first 10 seconds of meeting you”.
This only goes to show that it pays to work on your walk. “Shoulders pulled back and neck elongated, each stride should be roughly one to two feet wide. Walk directly toward the person you are meeting with every body part pointing in his or her direction, maintaining eye contact with occasional breaks to the side,” suggests Tonya Reiman (motivational speaker, body language expert and author of The Power of Body Language: How to Succeed in Every Business and Social Encounter).
During the interview
This is the crucial time where the interviewer gets to know you better. Although your answers to their questions are important, so are your posture and body language while listening and responding to such questions. Take note of the following tips to project the right impression.
1. Sit back straight in the chair.
Dr. Lillian Glass, who writes about body language tips in her book The Body Language Advantage, recommends “sitting firmly and leaning your back straight against the chair”. This is a sign of confidence and assurance. If you tend to slouch, “pretend there is a pretend there’s a string pulling you up from the crown of your head”.
2. Keep your feet on the ground instead of sitting cross legged.
Generally, it is advisable to place your feet firmly on the ground rather than crossing at the knees. if you must (ladies, take note!) cross at your ankles. This is an effective way to remain focused over an extended period of time especially during an interview rather than appear to be fidgeting because you need to re-cross your legs.
There is even a scientific reason why keeping both your feet on the ground helps you think and respond better!
“It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult to answer highly complex questions unless both of your feet are on the ground,” Wood says. “It has to do with being able to go back and forth easily between the limbic reptilian brain to the neocortex brain.”
What this simple means is that placing your feet on the ground helps you with creative thought and answering highly complex questions in a rational manner.
3. Breathe properly and speak on the exhale.
It’s alright to feel nervous during an interview. A good way of calming your nerves is to breathe properly – “inhale when the interviewer asks you a question, then speaking on the exhale, following the air flow,” suggests Glass. In general, practising deep breathing has a calming effect.
4. Avoid awkward eye contact and lean in.
Instead of making awkward eye contact or to avoid staring directly into the eyes of the interviewer, Glass suggests making “direct face contact”. This simply means looking at different parts of a person’s face and moving your gaze every two seconds, for example, from eyes to nose. This way you appear to look interested and engaged during the interview.
Leaning in also another way to show that you are engaged in the moment. So, lean slightly forward keeping your shoulders back and down, and your chest high!
5. Nod your head while listening.
Nodding your head in appropriate junctures during the interview shows attentiveness. Exercise this with caution, though! The last thing you want to do is agree to something you don’t believe in or worse something that may sound offensive.
6. Use hand gestures.
Studies have indicated that when you feel anxious, it shows
If you naturally use hand gestures while talking, then suppressing the habit might end up making you look anxious. Just remember to avoid using hand gestures excessively which may cause you to lose focus and appearing over-enthusiastic to the interviewer.
Practice these body language tips with your friends several times as part of your interview-prep and make it count when the times comes for your interview!