Reading and understanding body language is critical to your success in a job interview. Nonverbal communication equips you to understand what interviewers are thinking, helping you tweak your body language to get them to like you … and offer you the job!
The wet fish versus the bone crusher The handshake tells a story about each of us. Do you shake hands softly? Do you come in from the top and deliver a “bone crusher”? Aggressive people have firm handshakes; those with low self-esteem have limp, “wet fish” handshakes.
A great handshake is a three-step process:
Make sure your hands are clean and adequately manicured.
Ensure hands are warm but free of perspiration.
Execute your handshake professionally and politely, with a firm grip and a warm smile.
The eyes have it What’s considered an appropriate amount of eye contact may vary in different countries. In North America, 60 percent eye contact is a safe figure — one that can give hiring managers a feeling of comfort about you. More eye contact than this and you may seem too intense; any less and you risk appearing uninterested.
When you meet the interviewer, look her right in the eyes, then think to yourself, “Wow, so great to finally meet you!” This will make you smile, and she’ll pick up on your positive mood. When we look at someone we find interesting, our pupils dilate, a phenomenon the other person instinctively picks up on.
During a job interview, keep your eye contact in the upside-down triangle area of your interviewer’s face: from the left eyebrow, to the nose, back up to the right eyebrow.
Warning: Staring at a person’s lips is considered sexual, while looking at their forehead is considered condescending.
Get it straight Posture is an important thing to master on an interview: Get your posture straight and your confidence will rise with it. Next time you notice you are feeling a bit down, pay attention to how you are sitting or standing. Chances are you’ll be slouched over with your shoulders drooping down and inward. This collapses the chest and inhibits breathing, which can make you feel nervous or uncomfortable.
Get a “head” of the game When you want to feel confident and self-assured during an interview, keep your head level, both horizontally and vertically. Also assume this position when your goal is to be taken seriously. Conversely, when you want to be friendly and in the listening, receptive mode, tilt your head just a little to one side or the other.
Arms lend a hand, too Arms offer clues as to how open and receptive we are, so keep your arms to the side of your body. This shows you are not scared to take on whatever comes your way.
Quieter people tend to move their arms away from their body less often than outgoing people, who use their arms with big movements. Keep gestures within the frame of your body, or you’ll risk being seen as out of control. Avoid the negative action of crossing your arms during the interview.
Here are two common perceptions of hand gestures:
Palms slightly up and outward: open and friendly
Palm-down gestures: dominant and possibly aggressive
Get a leg up on the competition Our legs tend to move around a lot more than normal when we are nervous, stressed or being deceptive. As a result, try to keep them as still as possible during the interview. You should not cross your legs during a job interview, as it creates a barrier between you and the interviewer and may lead to fidgeting. When you cross your ankle at the knee, this is known as the “figure four,” and is generally perceived as the most defensive leg cross.
An Egyptian Business Consultant and Corporate Trainer since 1997.
I've trained on Management, Leadership and Soft Skills to thousands of people from many nationalities, backgrounds and professions in more than 10 countries across the Middle and Far East.
Holder of an MBA and a Candidate for Doctorate in Business.
Find more about my Management and Personal Skills Courses at AmrBadran.com and feel free contacting me at Amr@AmrBadran.com