“It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”
When you walk into an interview, you say a mouthful before you even introduce yourself. Experts agree that nonverbal communication – all those subtle messages we send to others without speaking – is just as important as verbal communication for displaying the necessary interview confidence and professionalism. You may have prepared pretty speeches for every question the interviewer asks, but all that eloquence can be undermined if your body isn’t on message. Don’t let bad body language sabotage another job opportunity – try our tips to wow the interviewer without saying a word!
1. Strong, Confident Handshake – Your father was right: a wet dish rag of a handshake never inspires confidence. Give the interviewer a firm (but not too firm! Don’t cut off her circulation!) shake to immediately convey self-assurance. And because handshake duration varies, let the interviewer take the lead. Her preference matters more than yours here!
2. Eye Contact – We all know, rationally, that eye contact is important. Somehow, though, we still seem to squirm beneath interviewer eye lines. Unfortunately, spotty eye contact implies intimidation and disinterest, two decidedly unpopular qualities among Human Resources reps. You’ll need to look your interviewer in the eye for the duration of the interview – no scanning the office or scoping the parking lot. Still, allow for the momentary eye contact breaks that naturally occur in conversation. An unblinking stare is more serial killer than competent professional.
3. Good Posture – Slackers slouch. Sit up nice and straight during an interview to appear alert and poised. Psychologists suggest the physical barrier created by crossed legs registers in others’ minds as an emotional barrier, so leave your legs uncrossed to seem candid and open. You might even lean forward slightly with your shoulders facing the interviewer, a posture that conveys interest and attentiveness.
4. Hands relaxed – Arms too are better left uncrossed. Folding your arms is a defensive gesture, one employed by pouting toddlers and uncomfortable party guests. To avoid such uncomfortable connotations, let your hands lie loosely on your lap or on the armrests of your chair. That way your hands hands are readily available to support your words with gestures if need be.
5. Stay Focused – Don’t check your watch, drum your fingers, or tap your feet. As you’ll remember from overlong high school classes, fidgeting is the ultimate sign of boredom and discomfort. Not only that, but constantly switching seat positions or twirling your hair will distract the interviewer from what should be the most important part: your words. Show the interviewer that you are serious (and hold her attention) by sitting still and concentrating on the interview at hand.
6. Show enthusiasm – Smile! No one wants to hire a dour Debbie Downer. Keep a positive, pleasant expression throughout the interview so the interviewer knows you WANT to be there. Nod your head occasionally to show that you are engaged in and understand what she is saying.
Sources can be found here.
Amanda is a rising senior at Elon University and will be graduating in May 2012 with a degree in Marketing and a minor in Psychology. She loves working with NEXT and assisting women with becoming more confident in their careers!