How’s Your Job Interview Body Language? A Quick Checklist

Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Bestseller
Professional Resume Services
Can you afford to be careless about the non-verbal clues others pick up from you?  Not if you are seeking professional employment. When your goal is to get a job offer, it becomes vitally important to recognize that your body is constantly sending messages, and you must make every effort to understand and control the information stream. 

If your mouth says, “Hire me,” but your body says, “I’m not being truthful,” you are likely to leave the interviewer confused. “Well,” she will think, “the right answers all came out, but there was something about that candidate that just rubbed me the wrong way.” Such misgivings are generally sufficient to keep a candidate from making the final cut. The interviewer may or may not be aware of what causes the concern, but the messages will be sent, and your cause will suffer.  
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Here are seven general suggestions on good body language for the interview: 
  1. Walk slowly and stand tall when entering the room.
  2. On greeting your interviewer, give a smile, make eye contact, and respond warmly to
    the interviewer’s greeting and handshake.
  3. As you sit, get your butt well back in the chair; this allows the chair back to help you
    sit upright. Increase the impression of openness (“I have nothing to hide!”) by unbuttoning your jacket as you sit down. Keep your head up. Maintain eye contact a good portion of the time, especially when the interviewer begins to speak and when you reply. Smile naturally whenever the opportunity arises.
  4. Use mirroring techniques to reproduce the positive signals your interviewer sends. Say the interviewer leans forward to make a point; a few moments later, you too lean forward slightly, demonstrating that you don’t want to miss a word. Perhaps the inter- viewer leans back and laughs; you “laugh beneath” the interviewer’s laughter, taking care not to overwhelm your partner by using an inappropriate volume level. This can seem contrived at first, but through observing those in your own social circle, you’ll notice that this is natural behavior for good communicators.
  5. Keep your head up and don’t slouch in your seat.
  6. Try to remain calm and do not hurry your movements; you’ll look harried and are
    more likely to knock things over. Most people are more klutzy when they are nervous, and consciously slowing your body movements will lessen the chances of disaster and give you a more controlled persona.
  7. Remember to breathe. When we are nervous we can forget to do this, which leads to oxygen deprivation and obviously screws up cognitive processes. 

Of course, interviewers will listen carefully to what you say. But when your body language complements your verbal statements, your message will gain a great deal of impact. Conversely, when your body language contradicts what you say, the interviewer will be skeptical. In short, learning to use positive body signals and control negative ones during an interview can have a significant impact on your job search and on the new job.  For more on body language on the interview, check out Knock Em Dead The Ultimate Job Search Guide 2013

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Martin Yate
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