6 Steps to Effective Interview Body Language
You sound great on the phone, by e-mail and in social media. Don’t blow it in person. It’s not just what you actually say in an interview that matters; your body language talks, too.
Here are some helpful tips on what is appropriate interview body language.
Shakespeare once said that “the eyes are the window to your soul,” which can obviously make direct eye contact feel uncomfortable and overly intimate. However, as awkward as you may feel staring into your interviewer’s eyes, it’s important to maintain eye contact throughout your interview.
If there’s more than one person at the meeting, make sure to have eye contact with whoever is talking as they ask you questions, and then give each person some uninterrupted eye contact time as you answer. Hold eye contact for too long though, and it may begin to feel a bit aggressive, so you need to figure out the sweet spot of when to break eye contact and how to do so without looking shifty.
One of the first things you’ll do in most interviews is shake hands with the person or people there to conduct the interview. This is an important part of making a good impression so you want to be sure your grip is firm and strong, but not too strong, since nobody wants to feel like you’re trying to break their hand. If you’re nervous, your hand may also be sweaty so try to discretely wipe your hand before you walk into the room so you’re not shoving your clammy hand into your interviewer’s.
If you use hand gestures when you talk to make a point, feel free to do so in your interview. That being said, you shouldn’t be using hand gestures so much that it looks like you’re playing charades. Keep it natural, and when you don’t need your hands, keep them open and palms up on the table or on your knees. You don’t want to cross your arms or lean your face against one because that makes you seem more defensive and bored, and avoid cracking your knuckles, too, because gross.
Sit up straight and make sure you’re touching the back of your chair to portray confidence and so you don’t slouch. However, you don’t want to sit back too far or it’ll make you seem overly relaxed and casual. Having good posture will also help you sit still for your interview and give you an air of professionalism and maturity. Additionally, you’ll want to angle your body towards whoever is speaking and make sure you lean in so your interviewer recognizes you’re interested and engaged.
While it may be your go-to foot arrangement, don’t cross your legs during an interview as it’s obvious and distracting when you change from one leg being crossed to the other (which, inevitably, you’d end up doing). Instead, either plant both your feet on the ground or if need be, cross your legs at the ankles. This will also help you not move too much during your interview, which can portray boredom and impatience — not things that will help you land the job.
SMILE AND NOD
When the interviewer or other people present are speaking, it’s important to be engaged and to convey your engagement and the easiest and best way to do so is by smiling and nodding. You don’t need a toothy grin across your face the whole time — a pleasant, friendly smile will do. Also, don’t nod throughout the entire time another person is speaking; you’re not a bobblehead. Actually listen to what your interviewer is saying and choose when to nod, when to make a quick comment to show you’re following them, and when to just sit there and smile.
If you’ve got the interview, you’re one step closer to landing the job — so don’t let your body language bring you down during the interview. Keep these tips in mind and your body language will be interview-appropriate and professional.