Landing a job interview requires a strong resume and cover letter combined with stellar references and credentials. But in the first three to seven seconds of that job interview, you may lose your chances of being offered the position. That is all of the time it takes to make a first impression, and over half of what will be evaluated in that first impression is your body language.
Body language in an interview may seem like a small factor, especially when you know you have the skills and credentials to fill a position well, but to the interviewer, it may be one of the most important.
So what is your body language saying about you? Here are some basic movements you may be making, and the negative impressions they create:
- Arms folded across the chest –a defensive gesture
- Hands in pockets – discomfort or unease
- Shaking or wiggling one leg or foot – nervousness or discomfort
- Rubbing your nose – dishonesty
- Rubbing your neck – boredom
- Staring at the floor – lack of interest in the conversation
- Slouching – a feeling that you are not prepared for the interview or the job
Some of these movements are involuntary, and you may not mean what the interviewer thinks, but that impression is going to last. Instead, consider these positive thoughts that you can bring to the surface with your body language.
- Direct eye contact – confidence and interest
- Leaning forward slightly – excitement and interest in the conversation
- Sitting up – alertness and energy
- Firm handshake – confidence and strength
- Tilting head slightly – interest in what is being said
One problem you may face in an interview is deciding what to do with your hands. If you ignore them, you will likely fidget. Instead, use them for emphasis in what you are saying, and rest them quietly in your lap when you are not speaking.
Above all, smile. This shows that you are confident in your abilities, have an interest in the position, and are going to be a “people person,” a skill that is valuable in just about any position.
Remember, body language says a lot about you as a candidate for a job, and it is the primary focus of any first impression. You are going to be nervous, so take the time to practice, preferably in front of a mirror. Too much is at stake to go into an interview without giving thought to your body language.