As we mention frequently, people make snap decisions about you based on first impressions.
It’s important that you present a positive total package to a potential employer. One aspect of that is body language. Many of the judgments that interviewers make about you are subconscious – they don’t even realize they are judging you when they judge you.
Some body language tips to keep in mind when you interview:
Have a good handshake
You want to shake the other person’s hand firmly, but not too hard. This isn’t a strength contest. Give it 2-3 shakes and let go. People with weak handshakes often don’t realize they have a weak handshake. Practice with some friends – yes really – and get feedback. It may sound silly, but it’s important. A good handshake conveys confidence and assurance.
Sit up straight
Sit up straight during your interview, and when you are seated waiting for the interviewer to arrive. A lot of office furniture today is low and slouchy. Sit on the edge of the chair or sofa, which helps you sit up straight. Leaning very slightly forward projects an interest in what the interviewer is saying.
Attitude is more important than most job seekers realize. Don’t paste a frozen smile on for the entire interview, but being friendly, cordial and positive makes people want to work with you. And hire you.
Look the interviewer in the eye when they speak. Acknowledge them by nodding or otherwise affirming occasionally that you are paying attention to what they are saying. Focus, concentrate and be present in the moment.
You may be nervous or antsy, but strive to sit still and be calm. Avoid foot tapping, fidgeting, tapping your pen, playing with your hair, clearing your throat, or whatever your nervous tic may be. You want to appear comfortable and professional, not nervous and unhappy to be there. If you’re unsure of your nervous tics asks friends or colleagues.
Don’t cross your arms. Or your legs. Crossing your arms gives a signal that you are uncomfortable and unreceptive. Crossing your legs can make you slouch.
Many interviewers are as uncomfortable as you are. Anything you can do to help put them at ease and show that you are a confident and competent professional will help your chances of securing the position.
Very helpful reminders, Kathleen. I’d say these are true for meetings in general. Thanks!
Great common sense tips. I also encourage people to be themselves, share a little bit of personal information (NOT your life story) and inject some humor where appropriate. I got my first gov job because I blurted out something stupid then took my shoe off and pretended to stick it in my mouth! That was 12 years ago and the person that hired me still chuckles about it when she sees me.
Great tips! Very Sound!
I would add that it is also important to leave the cell phone in car.