What Your Body Language Says During An Interview

It’s believed that the majority of human communication is actually nonverbal. That nonverbal subtext is thus just as important during a job interview as it is anywhere else; your body language can make the difference between whether you’re offered a position or not, just as your words can. Indeed, if you are compared against an equally qualified candidate, and that person presents himself better than you do, who do you think is going to be chosen for the job? If that candidate appears put together, calm, and confident, and you seem nervous, unsure of yourself, or untrustworthy, it’s the competition that’s going to win out and not you.

Communication starts from the moment you enter a room and another person sees you. Some interviewers ask desk clerks how you behaved before the interviewer even meets you, so you should be presenting yourself well even when you speak to the secretary. And when the interviewer does come in, you should immediately be trying to present yourself well.

Make eye contact, smile, and introduce yourself. There’s a lot that passes through the handshake. Your handshake should be firm and dry, but not a death grip. It should last just a moment and no more. If you sweat when you’re anxious, one good trick is to set your hand in your lap with the palm up while you’re waiting for the interviewer to appear. This will dry out your palm, even if the rest of you is still nervous and sweaty.

Before any job interview, try to make yourself aware of nervous tics you have. Do you fidget, play with your hair, pick your nails, shift your gaze toward the ceiling when answering questions? Habits like these can be unconscious, and they can tell someone far more about you than you’d like them to, and the message may even be inaccurate. Lots of people interpret nervousness as evidence of dishonesty. Confidence usually comes across as trustworthy. This is particularly true when it comes to where you’re looking when you answer questions.

While you want to appear cool and collected (yet warm and friendly at the same time), there is one other thing you should be working on, and that’s establishing rapport. You won’t want to behave exactly the same way at every interview you attend. You should be paying attention to the interviewer’s manner and doing your best to reflect it. If you’re very good at this, you can learn to size up other people more quickly than they can size you up, and adjust your behavior accordingly.

In a job interview, you do have an advantage in the sense that it does the interviewer no good to try to establish rapport with you, so you get a very honest impression of that person when you meet him or her. If the interviewer is extremely serious, you should be just as serious.

If the interviewer is lighthearted and cracks a few jokes, you should smile and laugh and show the same energy, with just a notch more restraint—and demonstrate that you can be serious when it’s called for. This will help the interviewer to feel like you could be a good match for the office and fit in with your potential co-workers.

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