Most of us would probably agree that first impressions matter. What we may not know is that the opinion we get from someone we’ve just met is often thanks to the concept of body language.
Muse’s career coach Eloise Eonnet shares that humans read each other’s body language and vocal delivery to make fast conclusions about whether we like, trust, or respect a person. Similarly, these snap judgments significantly affect the hiring decision of an interviewer.
Thus, while what you’ve prepared verbally plays an important part, what you do not say but reveal is equally weighty. In fact, studies have shown that facial behaviours like smiles and eye contact are considerable factors for employers.
“Facial expressions can be the most misunderstood nonverbal cue. Our faces tell more of the story than any words we use. Being mindful of how you express emotion when speaking (or when not) is important when interviewing,” says Monique Sample, a Virginia Commonwealth University Career Services representative.
With so much at stake, here are some tips to mind your body language for that upcoming interview.
#1: Enter strong
If you believe you’re being watched the moment you step into the company building, be sure to enter strong. Your communication with the secretary, receptionist, or HR assistant is as crucial as meeting with the hiring manager.
Be polite, confident, and maintain eye contact as you speak or introduce yourself. Nod or smile at your potential future colleagues should you meet them by the hallway to your waiting or interview room.
#2: Watch your wandering eyes
How would you feel if you’re conversing with someone, but the other party’s eyes are just wandering all over the place? Would you want to continue the conversation? Or would you attempt to end the conversation quickly?
As Eonnet rightly points out, your listener will only feel genuinely engaged with you if you are looking at them. Even if they do not respond verbally to your output, an internal response is sufficient to feel a connection.
#3: Pay attention to your arms & posture
Peeps who tend to slouch can try resting their arms on the table or desk. This will also prevent excessive gesturing, which can be a distraction. It also allows your body to lean a little forward, showing that you’re listening attentively to the hiring manager as they speak.
While paying attention to too many hand motions is essential, don’t let that bother you too much. You don’t want to appear too stiff in front of your interviewers, or worse still, develop fidgeting in other areas because your natural hand movements are forcefully curbed.
The wise old saying still stands – practice makes perfect. But to practise, you will need to find out how you behave in a mock interview.
Record yourself as you speak to an imaginary person or ask a close friend to observe you as you answer some sample interview questions. Get sufficient rest before your interview day, and don’t bash yourself up even if you didn’t get to show all that you’ve prepared.
Do your best and let fate handle the rest! Good luck.