Savvy job seekers know the importance of choosing the right words to communicate with prospective employers. But what about nonverbal communication? Every last gesture we make — whether it’s a tilt of the head, eye contact, or plain fidgeting — tells a story. Here’s some expert advice on how to effectively let your body do the talking in a job interview:
Lean In — leaning in isn’t just a metaphorical way to get ahead. It’s also a legitimate way to portray strong body language. Slumping back in your chair as you speak or listen projects insecurity. Rather, lean slightly forward into the conversation to show you are interested and engaged. Sit with good posture; a straight back with your shoulders back and remember that your body should be telling anyone who might be watching that you’re confident and calm. If you’re a natural sloucher, pretend there’s a string pulling you up from the crown of your head.
Keep Nervous Habits in Check —we all have them. Whether it’s twirling our hair or biting our nails keeping those nervous habits in check during an interview is a must if you want to come across more polished and confident. Placing your hands against your legs, in your lap or on the table may help to remind you to stop fidgeting.
Smile! — Smiling makes you seem approachable and comfortable, a must for any sort of interaction. Besides, they’re contagious!
Make Eye Contact — even better, make direct face contact. A more effective way to ensure you look interested and engaged is to look at different parts of someone’s face every two seconds, rotating from eyes, to nose, to lips, so you’re never just staring into the interviewer’s eyes.
Speak Up — speaking too softly conveys a lack of confidence. Your ideas are worth sharing so make them audible.
Avoid Arm Crossing — this posture causes your body to slouch and shrink in size-not a position of power and confidence. It also can create a bored, disinterested, and defensive posture. Not the energy you are trying to project during a job interview.
Talk with your Hands — if you’re not sure what to do with your hands, go ahead and gesture while speaking. Talking with your hands actually helps you think and speak more clearly. The process activates a section of the brain resulting in an increase in cortical activity. Try to keep hand gestures within the frame of your body. And all those movements should not be random but should match the point you’re making.
Give a Firm Handshake — when your palms are up, it signals honesty and engagement. Approaching a prospective employer with a professional handshake will make a positive initial impression.
Paying attention to body language changes the way others perceive you, it even leads to chemical and hormonal changes within the body helping to perform to the best of your abilities. It reveals your inner confidence while helping to make a lasting first impression in a competitive job market.
For more information on body language postures, watch social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk: Your body language shapes who you are.