Experts say that potential employers will make up their mind about you during the first few seconds after meeting you. And it has a lot to do with body language.
The importance of body language cannot be underestimated. Most job seekers spend hours and hours thinking about and practicing what they’re going to say. But they should also spend some time considering how they’re going to use nonverbal communication to establish rapport with the hiring manager.
It starts with a handshake
It all starts with the initial handshake, which believe it or not, can make or break an interview. When you first meet the interviewer, they will probably offer you their hand. Watch for their cue before you extend yours. Then squeeze their hand firmly – not too hard or too soft and avoid the limp or “dead fish” handshake, which will make a horrible impression.
Be sure to make eye contact and smile. Even if you might be nervous, let them know that you are happy to be there and excited about the job you are interviewing for.
Making eye contact is an important part of how you communicate. Looking in someone’s eyes helps establish rapport and shows that you are interested. Look them confidently in the eye, but don’t stare. That may make them feel uncomfortable
Be sure to make eye contact with the interviewer when they’re speaking and as much as possible when you’re speaking as well. If you are being interviewed by a panel of people, use what is sometimes referred to as the lighthouse technique. Look from one person to the next pausing briefly at each. But if a particular interviewer asks you a question, make sure to maintain steady eye contact with that person.
Practice using eye contact on a daily basis with friends and family. That way it will seem natural and you will become used to doing it. A good rule of thumb is each time you offer eye contact, make it long enough to notice the color of the other person’s eyes, or a little longer.
Don’t’ slouch. Sit up straight in your chair and plant your feet firmly on the floor. This will show that you are confident and ready to tackle the questions that will be thrown your way.
Don’t cross your legs or your arms. Although the reason is open to interpretation, crossed arms are considered negative by most people. They are thought to be a sign of insecurity or a means of putting a barrier between yourself and others.
Put your arms by your side but feel free to gesture. “Talking” with your hands can add emphasis to what you say, but use gestures sparingly.
You will also want to nod your head while the interviewer is speaking to show that you are listening and engaged, and agree with what they’re saying (if you do).
Remember to smile
Like eye contact, a smile can establish rapport with the person or people interviewing you. Make sure you smile and smile sincerely. A smile shows that you are confident, at ease with yourself and will be a pleasant person to work with. It also offers connection and a sense of empathy which can demonstrate that you possess important soft skills, setting you apart from other job candidates.
It ends with a handshake
When the interview is over, the hiring manager will probably want to shake your hand again to conclude the process. Make sure to thank them for taking the time to interview you and put on your best smile.
In the days before an interview, practice your body language techniques to make sure that you’ll feel comfortable and it comes off as natural.
Try a power pose
Right before the interview you can also try a little trick that will improve the way you present yourself. It’s called a power pose – the hands-on-the-hips wonder woman pose or what an athlete does when he raises both hands above his head to celebrate victory after crossing the finish line. Researchers have found that assuming a power pose for two minutes before going into an interview gives people the confidence they need to make a favorable impression. It should also put you in the mindset to use your best body language.
Using the proper body language is an important skill and should help you make a good impression and get the job.