Guest Post by Kyle O’Brien
Ahh. The job interview. A thorn in the side of most candidates (and hiring managers, too) for many reasons. There’s the resume gloss over. Typical questions about where they want to be, who they want to be and how they are going to get it. A quick shake of the hand and a, “I’ll let you know what we think” response before the candidate walks out of the office feeling either completely confident, bewildered or defeated. And for good reason: the interview process is a complex and stressful event. Candidates fret about how long their answers to questions should be, how pristine their resume paper is, what to wear and much more.
Some worry so much they ignore basic body language etiquette.
I know it’s hard to be perfect with every type of body language rule out there, but job interviews are a short window to impress someone. Put simply, you must master the most important body language rules. And there are a lot of them. Here are some of the more important body language reminders to focus on.
Be Confident With Eye Contact: Let’s get the most important one out of the way first. If you aren’t giving the hiring manager direct eye contact the entire time, you might as well prepare to climb uphill the rest of the way. And when giving eye contact, don’t relax your eyes so much that it looks like you’re sizing up someone, and don’t have your eyes so stretched open that it looks like you’re constantly surprised. Find a natural middle ground.
Close The Gaps: Start to imagine a smaller space around you and the interviewer. If he or she has a few distracting things around them (fish tank, screensaver icons bouncing around, blinking clock, etc.), it’s easy to divert not just your eyes, but your ears.
Do Power Poses Beforehand: If you haven’t seen the fascinating TED Talk from Amy Cuddy on power poses, please do so. In it, she brings up a number of points that we can all use prior to interviews – or any big moment at work, for that matter. Build up confidence with a simple arms raised in a “V” formation for 2 minutes. Do this, or any of the other poses mentioned from Amy in front of a mirror before walking into the interview. Every bit of assertiveness you can add to your voice and posture is well worth it.
Don’t Talk With Your Hands: When you see some of the best public speakers out there, you’ll notice they do a lot of hand gestures to help get points across – but your job interview isn’t a lecture. You must tone down the hand gestures when talking to the hiring manager. While certain hand gestures invoke more passion behind your words, too much quickly becomes a distraction.
Don’t Nod At Everything: When you find yourself nodding at back-to-back comments, it can become one of the catchiest mistakes to repeat throughout the rest of the interview. Some do it to stop themselves from saying, “Sure” or “Yeah” to breaks in the conversation, but either of those two actions can seem like a nuisance to the hiring manager.
Keep Your Hands Away From Your Face: What’s the most common action we do as humans when we ponder a question? We touch our face or hair, of course. But doing so during an interview – even if it’s a split-second gaffe – can send mixed signals. When you scratch your nose, it’s not only in poor taste, but it may mean you’re holding back on something. When you scratch your forehead, it might display that you are uncertain of the answer, or could display that you are unenthusiastic…even though you aren’t. Next time, keep your hands clear of your face or hair.
Looking Up or Sideways When Questioned: When you look up and to the left after a question’s been asked, you’re committing one of the most common assumptions: whatever you say is untruthful. And to be fair, that theory has been shot down from multiple sources. Nevertheless, it’s something people still consider to be true. One of those sources cited a study where 70% of respondents agreed that liars avert their eyes, among other gestures. So play it safe and assume that even though a myth like this persists, you’re better off controlling your eye movements.
Practice makes perfect.
And that’s just scratching the surface on body language advice. You don’t want to overthink your body language, nor do you want to assume you’ve got your bases covered. If you can, try and sit in front of a mirror and look at your posture. Then start reciting answers to whatever questions you might be asked and pay attention to your voice and gestures. Is it awkward, normal or too forced? Until you can find that confident relaxation, practice makes perfect.
What other body language tips do you consider to be valuable during an interview?
Image: Veer, Rights Reserved.
Kyle is the Community Manager for an e-learning company, ej4, and has written many articles concerning daily workplace struggles, how to improve one’s leadership abilities and how to motivate employees the right way. Follow them on Google + for more.
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Body Language Advice for Your Next Interview
Kyle, you’ve given some great advice here. As a hiring manager, I’d definitely second your advice on body language, especially the point about maintaining eye contact. I’d say keeping a comfortably straight posture would be important, too. A face-to-face interview is a subtle energy exchange. The hiring manager would want to feel that the candidate is engaged, motivated and wants the job and do it well. Thanks again.
Thanks, Alice! Love your point about the face-to-face interview being a subtle energy exchange. Great stuff.
Some solid, important advice, Kyle. Being conscious of where are arms are is key. It is not being distracted by it being aware if we are in an open or closed position. We need to be open, attentive, and relaxed…. a tough challenge at times. Keeping eye contact is important, too, and may help with our body language as well. Great tips here! Thanks! Jon
Fascinating! I work for myself now, and can honestly say I will do what ever it takes to never have to experience a job interview again. That said, there are those client meetings, so thanks for these great tips!
Thanks, Marquita! Appreciate the feedback. Job interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience, for sure. And it’s important to be mindful of our body language with all aspects of the business, especially, like you stated, with client meetings.
Good tips! A few years ago I interviewed a candidate for an open position I had on my team and I can still picture her twirling her hair for our entire interview. I was so distracted and it made her come off as far from professional – I did not want to put her in front of a client!
Thanks for reading, Alli! Great point with the twirling of the hair – another inadvertent gesture some get caught up in.