Employers rely on nonverbal cues as much as verbal ones to gauge your intelligence, confidence and power. Shape-up your body language with these six simple steps to nail your next interview.
1. Prepare Yourself
As you prepare for your interview, get yourself in the right mindset. Think about what questions you may be asked and decided on your answers, read over your resume for any last minute edits, and tell yourself how much you deserve this position. Prepare a neat, plain folder with two printed resumes and/or portfolio, you can even bring a blank piece of paper to take notes. Being prepared to display your best manners and professionalism will allow you to demonstrate just how great a candidate you are.
Your confidence exudes through your appearance and attitude. Dress professionally with solid colors in slacks, a dress or knee-length skirt; avoid patterns and loud colors. Use a lint roller before leaving your house, keep one in your car if necessary.
2. First Impressions matter and they start well before the interview.
Before you walk into the building for your appointment, arrange your possessions, double-check your appearance and put on a smile. People who see you when you first arrive (i.e., receptionists or other employees) may be asked for their opinion of you later. If you spend your first few minutes frantically looking through your briefcase or texting on your phone before greeting them, their opinions may leave something to be desired.
Your handshake says a lot about you before you ever speak a word, so make sure it’s as confident as you are. When you do meet your interviewer grip their hand firmly and shake it up and down once. Be sure your nails are trimmed and clean and your palms are not sweaty. Never give a limp handshake, but be sure to not squeeze too hard.
When sitting down, keep your bag and any other items at your feet and place your folder with portfolio on the desk. Piling your personal items on an interviewer’s desk or in your lap, is poor interview etiquette.
3. Eyes Ahead
Eye contact is important. Avoid staring at the ground or ceiling while they’re talking, since these signals could be taken as disrespectful or disinterested. Don’t glare at the interviewer, or stare at them so intently that they gets uncomfortable. Relax your gaze and look him/her in the eyes as much as naturally possible.
4. Play it Cool
Everyone gets nervous at an interview! When you feel nerves creeping in, control your breathing and listen to your interviewer. The more you pay attention to the moment, the less you will worry about the next question they might ask. The trick is to stay in control of your nerves. Panicked breathing, chewing your nails, or twirling your hair may comfort you during a stressful situation — but these behaviors cannot come out at a job interview. If you’re ever unsure of the atmosphere of the interview, try “mirroring.” This tactic involves making small, subtle reflections of the interviewer’s body language. Copying movements such as the direction they lean in, or smiling while they’re smiling, lets the interviewer know you are attentive and engaged — factors which will work in your favor. But use common sense. If the interviewer is slouching, making wild gestures, or just plain unprofessional, then it’s best to stay away from mirroring and stick to your interview best practices.
5. Posture Pro
Try to sit as upright as possible, or lean in slightly with a straight back. This shows interest without seeming stiff. If you must gesture with your hands, keep them in the area between your belly button and your collar bone. Anything higher or lower seems frenzied and can be a distraction to the interviewer.
Also, be sure not to drape your arms and legs across furniture. Or shrink up to the middle of the chair. Sitting with legs or ankles crossed, back straight, and arms folded in your lap will help you appear confident and well-mannered.
6. Closing Time
Thank your interviewer for his time and be genuine. Ask if there is anything you can read or do to prepare for the position and ask for the job. Shake their hand again, and then leave cool and collected (don’t rush off!). If possible, shake hands with and thank anyone else who was a part of your interview process. This is the last impression you will leave on interviewers, and being genuinely grateful will make you memorable.
Whatever you say to an interviewer, your body will be saying something louder. So be sure that your body talk is confident, expressive, and professional from the moment you arrive.