In most social encounters, we’re being judged even before we open our mouth. Our body language has a significant impact on how we are perceived.
If your words don’t match what your body is saying, people are more likely to believe your body.
Learning to "speak" body language may come in handy especially during job interviews where you might feel like you're tightrope walking. You want to seem confident without coming across as obnoxious, look smart but not too bookish.
Mastering the language of the body can help us find the balance.
Incorporate these 10 body language tips into the preparation for your next job interview.
Of course, there are other things you should research in preparation for an interview, but it certainly helps if you know what your limbs are doing, but you’ll also be able to make a killer first impression on the interviewer!
Table of Contents
Click on a section to skip
Master the art of the perfect handshake. The overly aggressive shake—a.k.a. death grip—is as off-putting as the "limp tentacle" handshake. Ask your friend to assist you in a handshake practice session to help you find the balance.
When offering your hand, turn your palm slightly up so that your interviewer's hand can cover yours. Go for a firm handshake accompanied by a brief eye contact and smile. This will help you demonstrate confidence and create a bond with your interviewer at the same time.
Avoid covering the person's hand with the hand you’re not shaking with. They could easily misinterpret it as a sign of domination.
2. Personal space
Keep in mind that personal space extends to about 20 inches. Encroaching on this space can make people feel uncomfortable and awkward. Aaand, that's it. Not much else to say here. When in doubt, keep your distance.
3. Eye contact
Maintaining good eye contact is an effective way to say you're trustworthy and engaged in the topic of your conversation. But you definitely shouldn't end up staring persistently in the other person’s eyes. Here’s the trick:
Instead of direct eye contact, go for direct face contact. An easy way to make you look engaged is to look at different parts of someone's face. In this way you’ll avoid an uncomfortable constant gaze into the interviewer's eyes. Change the spot every two seconds. Rotate from eyes, to nose, to ears, to lips and back.
4. Sitting style
Keep your back straight. Sitting up straight is seen as a sign of intelligence, composure and credibility. By displaying your neck, chest and stomach area you signal that you're open and honest. If nothing helps, imagine as if there was a string tied from the top of your head to the ceiling.
Avoid slumping or reclining back into the chair as this can make you seem bored or disengaged. If you are granted a choice of seating, go for the straight-backed chair. Cushioned chairs and sofas may seem comfy, but they will hardly let you sit gracefully.
Also, gestures like crossing your arms or placing a handbag on your lap might make you appear closed off. They talk defensiveness and for self-protection—not the ideal body language you’d like to speak during a job interview.
Go ahead and let your hands move as you speak. Blocking natural gestures might lead to an awkward appearance. Just make sure not to get too excited. Exuberant gestures would distract the listener from your words.
When working with your hands, keep them above the desk and below the collarbone. Ideally, shoot for the area fanning out 180 degrees from your navel. This will make you appear balanced, controlled and calm. Also, sitting about a foot away from the table will help to make your gestures clearly visible.
Palms facing up are a sign of engagement and honesty that you’ll signal to the interviewer. Avoid clenching your fists or frantically waving your hands around to make a point. And never ever bite your nails or touch your face. This would make you look nervous and anxious.
And if you're still unsure what to do with your hands, guys over at Inc. put together a step-by-step guide that has you covered.
A genuine, honest smile is the best remedy to any embarrassing or awkward situation. Contagious laugh thaws ice and moves the mountains. It's worth investing in creating a positive environment during the interview.
Last but not least: Beware of the perils of the infamous RBF—resting bitch face—which your face might be incidentally manifesting. If smiling doesn't come naturally to you, there are Wiki guides out there for people like you. Check it out: How to Smile.
A great way to soothe job interview anxiety is to control your breath. Focus on breathing as it is a vital part of the conversation.
To reduce your heart rate and stress hormone level before the interview, take 10 deep breaths. During the interview breathe in when you’re being asked and breathe out when it’s your turn to speak. These pieces of advice will keep you full of fresh air and novel ideas at the same time.
Nodding shows your interest in the conversation and agreeability. If you're not one of those people who do this naturally, pay attention to opportunities to nod. Nodding too often will make you look like a woodpecker, but a proper dose of nods will make the interviewer feel understood and followed.
Be proud that you’re an intelligent human being that has two feet to stand on. When walking, you shoulders should be pulled back and your neck elongated.
Always remember to walk with purpose and energy. Your body language should be communicating confidence and calm. Don't hunch your shoulders or tuck your chin into your chest. These gestures would make you look timid or nervous.
Mirroring means aligning your body’s position to that of your interviewer’s. Sounds odd? Well, it's definitely one of the best tools to signal admiration and agreement. Through mirroring you can quickly get on good terms with your interviewer. So make sure to match their posture and body language.
Trying to mirror a person’s tempo and demeanor also shows you can easily fit with the environment and work in tandem with your colleagues. Being flexible and adaptive are definitely great assets that many companies appreciate.
Don't forget about these body language tips and good luck!
Following these 10 useful body language tips, your body will help you embody the ideals every candidate for a job wants to express. Focus on the message you'd like to get across and make your body language be in sync with your mind.
Above all, remember that being yourself pays off the most. At the end of the day it's going to be you working for the company, not the image you seek to project. Present yourself in the best light possible, but stay true to your core values.
Now it’s your turn to exude some confidence and power. Let your body do the talking and land your dream job in the interview of your life!
Got the body language down pat after our 10 hot tips? Time to put fingertips to keyboard! Swing on over to our versatile resume samples, and let's add some pizzazz to your application.