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What Every Candidate Ought To Know

December 5, 2011

"My lips are moving but my body is speaking"

When it comes to job interviews, candidates prep for the big day by reviewing the details of their resume and rehearsing answers to frequently asked questions from potential interviewers.  However, many job interviews go bad when little time is spent in practicing what is not being said.  Your non-verbal communication, otherwise known as “body language”, is just as important than your verbal communication exchange.  According to communication expert, Carmine Gallo, the words you say account for less than 10% of the message that you convey and over 90% of the message you are sending during your job interview is all non-verbal.

Why is body language so important?  Well, your non-verbal cues that you unconsciously give off during a job interview can add to the interviewer’s favorable impression of you; while other cues may unintentionally make you seem nervous, anxious or even defensive.  Your body language is part of the overall package that you are presenting to a potential employer and it factors into the decision to hire you in a big way.

Here are some body language techniques to keep in mind the next time you are prepping for a job interview.

Eye Contact

Maintaining good eye contact with the interviewer is essential when establishing a rapport.  This will ensure that you are listening and understanding the interviewer.  Try to act natural and keep a good balance so that you don’t appear like you are staring at them constantly.  This is not an eye contest showdown like in the Clint Eastwood movie, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  It’s okay to look away briefly and then re-establish eye contact as you are speaking.  Try to avoid looking at the floor or the ceiling.  Looking away may make you appear insincere or submissive.  Don’t forget to smile but don’t overdo it so that it doesn’t appear like you are auditioning for a ‘colgate” toothpaste commercial or showing off your pearly whites.  Just imagine that you are talking to one of your best friends.

Crossing Arms

Crossing your arms suggests a closed and defensive attitude.  Waving your hands and arms around can be perceived as uncertainty and a lack of professionalism.  It can also be distracting for the interviewer to follow along on what you are saying.  Extreme hand and arm movement may look like the robot from the science fiction TV series, Lost in Space where he is known for waving its accordion-pleated arms and often shouted such programmed phrases as “Warning! Warning!” and “Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!”  Common wisdom is that the less you move your hands and arms, the more confident and in control you appear.  Crossing your arms across your chest conveys a nervous, negative and even aggressive attitude.  It may sound silly but try to practice a comfortable way to loosely place your hands and arms and minimize your hand and arm gestures while you are sitting.

Handshake

In the beginning of a job interview give the interviewer a strong and firm handshake.  This is a first step in establishing a rapport with the interviewer.  A weak, limp handshake gives an impression of a disinterested and a cold person.  It also signifies lack of enthusiasm.  The “knuckle buster” handshake may be seen as dominant or overly aggressive.  Try to aim for a confident mid-strength handshake that shows respect and trustworthiness.

Legs

If you are anything like me, I am a horrible leg “shaker” and “fidgeter” while sitting.  At times, I feel like my legs have a life of their own.  So when you are interviewing, try to stay in control by keeping your legs crossed at the ankles or keeping your feet flat on the floor.  You will look more professional and show confidence during the job interview.  Too much leg movement may be distracting and may show how uncomfortable you are.

Posture

When you are entering an interview room, it is always better to walk with your head up to show your confidence and warmness.  Sit up straight with your hands relaxing completely and lean slightly forward in your chair.  This indicates that you are comfortable and feeling confident.  Sitting on the edge of your chair can come across as being nervous and tense.  Try to relax and be casual.  Be careful not to appear too comfortable so that you don’t come across with a careless attitude and a lack of energy.

All of these body language techniques may sound awkward but is critical to the success in a job interview.  Get in front of a mirror or with a friend and practice these interactions.  Speak aloud as you normally would, and carefully watch what your body is doing.  Even better, record yourself for several minutes and then watch the video to identify how you might present yourself better.

You will also find many books at your local bookstore written about body language.   For instance, the book, The Definitive Book of Body Language, written by Allan and Barbara Pease examine each component of body language and provide fascinating insights, humorous observations and simple strategies that you can apply to any situation including a job interview.

Do you have some body language techniques to share as well?  Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.   Like us and join the conversation.

Good luck and happy job hunting!

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2012 2:48 am

    I think you have noted some very interesting details , thankyou for the post.

  2. January 10, 2012 5:43 am

    You have brought up a very fantastic details , appreciate it for the post.

  3. February 8, 2012 6:21 am

    Many thanks for the article, it was interesting and compelling. I discovered my way here through Google, I’ll return one more time 🙂

  4. February 8, 2012 9:11 am

    You understand a lot its nearly arduous to argue with you (not that I really would need…HaHa).

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