Studies suggest that 60% or more of communication is non-verbal. That makes your body language – the way you present and hold yourself – as important as your printed resume or your conversation during an job interview.
Just as you would correct a misspelled word to polish your resume, there are steps you can take to improve your body language.
- Straighten your posture. Whether you are walking, standing, or sitting, hold your head up, shoulders back and back straight. Others will see your posture as a statement about your confidence in yourself and your abilities.
- Shake hands when being introduced and when concluding the interview. Handshakes should be firm but not aggressive. The strength of your grip and length of time spent shaking hands should not leave physical impression on the interviewer.
- Sit facing the interviewer(s). Take a chair the elevates you as much as possible and will support good posture. Sit back in the chair with your feet on the floor. Avoid poses that indicate a defensive position such as crossed arms or legs.
- Avoid physical distractions. Fiddling with materials on the desk, your clothes, hair, or hands can be seen as nervousness. Keep a pen and paper in front of you to take notes. This will show your engagement as well as provide a channel for nervous energy.
- Eye contact should be used with strategic moderation. It’s important to make eye contact during the course of the interview. Research suggests that looking at the interviewer when listening is more important than looking when talking. Avoid starring. The most successful interviews are those that become a good conversation. Use the same techniques you would when speaking with a good friend.
- Lean-in slightly and nod when the discussion is engaging. Leaning forward and nodding to acknowledge important points of the conversation demonstrates your engagement.
- Walk into and leave the interview with a sense of purpose. Your stride should be well-defined but not exaggerated. And, when the time comes to depart leave again with defined strides as opposed to shuffling out.
- Let your hands speak with your voice. Hands can be used within the space before the frame and within the width of your shoulders lend credence to your message and demonstrate passion for your subject.
- Smile. Most important of all, smile. A smile will lift you over come many stumbles.
Body language is one way an interviewer assesses your fit with the organization’s culture and communications style. Practicing body language can be just as important as practicing interview questions.