Posted by: garispang | August 5, 2009

Does Body Language make or break an interview?

body-languageBody language constitutes 90% of communication, while our words give only 10% of our overall meaning. Stance, posture, the use of hands, and expression all play a key role in getting your message across. In an interview, knowing how your body language is interpreted by others may mean the difference between a fantastic new job, and another week or month on the market.

We can assume that you’ve got the usual things under control. You’ve prepared a resume before hand, you’ve dressed the part, and you give a firm handshake while making eye contact. You smile. Those are the things interviewers know to look for.

Here’s what they don’t:
You may lean forward or backwards in your chair while you chat with your interviewer. Leaning forward implies engagement, while leaning backward implies expectation. The internet is an active medium, and most people reading this article will be leaning forward to scroll through and pick out the parts that are relevant to them. That’s the body language that will tell your future employer that you care about what’s being said.

Nod. Smile. Facial ques send messages without interrupting the person you’re listening to. This helps to keep the focus on the job, while still saying “I’m excited about what I’m hearing.”

Make eye contact with everyone in the room. Even if someone is shadowing your interviewer, and doesn’t ask any questions, addressing your responses to each person in the room will show that you are aware, adaptable, and able to integrate in to the social environment of the job.

Use body language when you’re talking on the telephone. Even if the entire interview is over the phone, the way you hold your body will be apparent through the energy and tension in your voice. Pacing or going for a walk will give your voice a sense of progress. Sitting or slouching will give it a sense of relaxation. Sitting forward with your elbows on your knees will strain your voice, as if you’re expecting something big to happen. All of these things are subtle clues your interviewer will subconsciously consider when you make your impression, and will form the primary means by which they judge your personality.

Show your palms. Grasping objects says to people, “I’m ready to leave now.” Picking at yourself, your face, your clothes, says “I should have done more to prepare,” and “my mind isn’t on the topic, its on myself.” You can combat these habits by showing your interviewer your palms with open gestures that prevent you from holding anything while at the same time giving an impression that is both submissive to their topics, and confidant in your responses.

Make eye contact when you say goodbye. Your attitude when you leave is often the most telling, because that’s when you have the opportunity to process the outcome of the interview. Your mind kicks in to high gear, and your subconscious mind has been putting together an agenda since you sat down. Take a deep breath, maintain eye contact and your smile, and walk away with squared shoulders. If you leave with confidence, you can be confidant that you’ll be back!


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