Interview Day Body Language
Although candidates rehearse the verbal aspects of job interviews, many employers look further than the words that come out of their mouth. Body language is to some extent as important as the words that you are communicating. If your words are saying one thing and your body another, hiring managers will pick up on the differences and doubts will ensue as a result. It is important that candidates know how to conduct themselves in interviews, to give them the best possible chance.
Your entrance to the premises is important. Once on site, candidates must remember to act in a calm and professional manner because, as far as the employer is concerned, this is where the interview starts. Don’t panic or appear anxious, as this gives off the impression that you are not prepared for the interview. Your employer may well be watching you as soon as you arrive. Remain relaxed and composed the minute you step foot on the premises, and walk confidently into the building.
When you get to reception, introduce yourself and explain why you are there. Most employers will ask their receptionist to monitor the candidate and give feedback of their thoughts on you. Here is where your body language could work in your favour. Be sure to sit facing the receptionist, this way they will feel more comfortable and are more likely to think positively of you. Also, try to predict the way that your employer will enter the room and sit facing that direction, this will allow for a smoother, more natural greeting.
When sat down, rather than sitting closed off with your legs crossed and chin tucked into your chest in a slouched position, open your body up and sit with your chest out. Keep your back straight and shoulders back, as this will give off a natural aura of confidence and will come across well. Note that stretching your legs out too much, or sitting with your arms sprawled across the backs of chairs could come across as overly confident, pushing on arrogant.
Handshakes and interviews come hand in hand quite literally, so it is important to get this part right. It might be worth practising with a friend beforehand so that you can get the ideal positioning and firmness, so as not to break the employer’s hand, but also not to offer an insecure, limp handshake.
In terms of the positioning of the handshake, it is advisable to present your hand with the palm slightly upward facing. The key word here is slightly. This is an action that gives the employer status and clearly shows them that you know who is taking the lead in this situation. Never place your resting hand on top of their hand in the handshake, as this is a clear sign of dominance and will make the employer feel inferior and uncomfortable in that circumstance.
If you have come prepared with a portfolio of any kind, be sure to hold them in your left hand in order to be prepared for the handshake, and so that you’re not shuffling paper from one hand to the other. Although a trivial issue, it has implications of nerves and uncertainty, which will be noted by the employer.
If you come to the interview with any equipment, make sure that you place it on the floor beside you, unless it is equipment that you will be using during the course of the interview. Do not place anything on your lap as this creates a barrier between yourself and your interviewer.
When being interviewed, as with the waiting room, sit with your back straight, shoulders up and chest out. Keep your chin up and neck displayed, these are signs of openness which all come across very well to the hiring manager. Try not to appear closed off by leaning forward too much, it’s OK to sit a bit further away from the desk (about a foot) to avoid this.
Hand gestures should be kept just above the desk, but below the collarbone. By gesturing at this level, you will appear grounded and calm, which comes across well to employers.
When your interview comes to an end, calmly gather your belongings, get up gracefully, and when appropriate, shake hands with everyone present. If it isn’t appropriate make sure to shake hands with the person who brought you to your interview and the hiring manager’s hand before you leave. Do not try to read the body language of the interviewers as it is likely that they have been trained to give off no emotion throughout. You may feel flustered and panicked if you get the wrong impression at the end of the interview, and this could reflect badly on your exit. Be sure to remain professional right until closure of the day, smile and depart calmly.