Don’t rely on words alone—let body language help you get that job.
Our body language is something we, typically, don’t actively think about. However, it is something that our minds automatically pick up on, whether we realize it or not. Body language is a good way to tell if someone is scared, nervous, excited, happy, etc. These are all things that can affect you during an important interview. Your body language can easily tell the hiring manager that you’re not comfortable, leading them to possibly believe you wouldn’t be comfortable with the job or the company. You want to take control of your body language, and make conscious efforts to make yourself appear calm, cool, and collected.
Make eye contact.
Failure to make eye contact is a way to show the interviewer that you are nervous and not very sure of yourself. When you make eye contact, you exude confidence and show that you are comfortable in the situation and with the interviewer. Be careful not to make too much eye contact, however. If you are staring the interviewer down, they may wonder if you are trying to be aggressive or just aren’t up to par with social cues. They will also probably feel very uncomfortable and want to end the interview sooner rather than later.
Sit up straight.
While it may be an easy thing to forget, or hard to control in general, good posture is always a must. If you are leaning back, you may come off as lazy or arrogant. If you are leaning forward, you may seem overly-aggressive. If you are slouching you, may appear to be lazy. The best neutral position is sitting with a straight back, showing interest in what is happening around you.
Use hand gestures.
When you’re speaking, go ahead and use your hands, too. When people get nervous, they tend to wring their hands or hide them altogether. This is an easy way to express your anxiety to an interviewer. Hiding your hands can also make you seem subconsciously distrustful to the interview. Keep your hands out and open. As an added bonus, gesturing your hands while talking is a good way to show interest and passion in what you’re discussing.
This should be one of the easiest parts of the body to control. It also doesn’t take much effort to keep a small smile during an interview. If you have trouble smiling, or get comments about looking angry with a resting face, then you may want to practice this pre-interview. You want the smile to look genuine—not forced. If you aren’t smiling during an interview, it could be interpreted in a multitude of ways. An interviewer may think you don’t really want to be at the interview, that you’re unhappy, that you feel that the interview is a waste of your time, etc.
Have a firm handshake.
This is actually one of those things that a lot of hiring managers take into account, whether the facts are baseless or not. Having a firm handshake shows that you are confident and in control of yourself. If you have a weak handshake, this can often come across as having a “weak” personality type. Be careful not to be too firm in the handshake, though. You don’t want to make it a contest.
Keep your arms open.
Your arms should remain relaxed at your sides, or with your hands resting in your lap. As mentioned previously, it’s never a bad idea to use your hands when talking. The one thing you do not want to do is have your arms crossed. Keeping your arms crossed is like keeping a barrier between yourself and the interviewer. It comes across as defensive and resistant. If your arms aren’t crossed, you are automatically considered more approachable.
Nod while listening.
Everyone wants to feel like they are being listened to and appreciated for what they have to say. An interviewer is no different. Nodding your head to signal that you are listening is a good way to keep the interviewer moving along while showing your attentiveness. If you are just staring at the interviewer or not making eye contact at all, they may think that you aren’t giving your full attention or just don’t care much about what is being said.
Uncounscious fidgeting is something a lot of people do, especially when they are nervous. Make a conscious effort to think about what you are doing. Are you a nail-biter? Keep your hands away from your mouth. Don’t jiggle your legs. Don’t play with a stray strand of hair. That nervous energy will only translate over into the interview, distracting both yourself and the interviewer from the goal at hand. You want the interviewer to be focused on what you’re saying, not on what you’re (unconsciously) doing.
More from Ladders
- 4 steps to becoming a powerhouse public speaker
- Chronic procrastination: 5 weird (but effective) ways you can conquer it
- The lessons most new grads have to learn in their first jobs
- Eight great tricks for reading people’s body language
- How to keep going and find your breakthrough when it feels impossible