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Body Language in an Interview


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Do’s and Don’ts for Positive Communication

Properly expressing yourself through body language gives you a great advantage in a job interview. While everybody communicates with body language, most of us do it on a subconscious level. Whether you like it or not, this subconscious body language will influence the way an interviewer thinks or feels about you. If you send the right signals, you will be liked and trusted. Send the wrong signals however, and you jeopardize your chances of landing the job. The key to positive body language in an interview is self-awareness. Become aware of the signals you are sending and learn how to use your body to your advantage.

Body Language Do’s

Do Assess Yourself

Before your interview, assess your own body language. Ask a friend to help you identify unusual habits or annoying behaviour such as hair-twirling, head-scratching or excessive frowning. Such body language may betray you in an interview, causing you to look nervous or untrustworthy. It’s also a good idea to rehearse your interview in front of a mirror or video camera. The more you practice good body language, the more natural and relaxed you will feel during your interview.

Do Maintain a Good Posture

Aim to look confident, interested and alert by sitting upright and leaning slightly forward. Keep your hands relaxed in your lap, using them to gesture appropriately as you speak.

Do Make Eye Contact

Demonstrate you are alert and interested by keeping good eye contact with your interviewer. If you look away or can’t look someone in the eye, you may be perceived as shy or, worse still, ignorant and disinterested. Always look at the person speaking to you. It’s okay to be natural and glance away, but be sure to acknowledge every question with eye contact.

Do Smile

A smile works well to break the ice, help you relax and build rapport with your interviewer. Always smile at your first greeting and when saying ‘thank you’ at the end of the interview.

Do Mirror Your Interviewer

Mirroring is a well known rapport building technique, which involves matching your own body language to the interviewer’s body language. Without being obvious, you can discreetly adapt your posture, tone of voice and facial expressions to match the interviewer’s. This helps build rapport by making the other person feel more comfortable around you. Your aim is to establish common ground and foster mutual respect.

Body Languages Don’ts

Don’t Fold Your Arms or Legs

Folding your arms or crossing your legs may make you appear defensive and arrogant. If you habitually cross your legs, try keeping your knees close together and crossing your legs at the ankles. If you’re unsure what to do with your hands, leave them relaxed in your lap. If you’re standing, it’s okay to keep one hand on your waist.

Don’t Slouch

Slouching not only looks bad, it makes it difficult for you to breathe. Avoid a slovenly appearance and weak, breathless voice by sitting up tall. Keep your spine straight and shoulders comfortably pulled back. This allows you to breathe deeply, resulting in a stronger, more confident tone of voice.

Don’t Fidget

If you’re a fidget by nature, make an extra effort to control your habits. Swaying, scratching, rocking, finger tapping, arm swinging and foot bouncing will make you appear nervous and annoy other people in the room.

Don’t Overlook the Little Things

Even the smallest body gestures count towards your overall communication. Left untamed, little things such as eye blinking, nose curling, lip biting and shoulder shrugging can let you down. Overcome these bad habits by first becoming aware of your own mannerisms, then deliberately controlling your body language when you’re in the interview.

Don’t Be Self-Focused

Although body language is important, don’t be too focused on your own behaviour. Get the basics right by following this “Do’s and Don’ts” guide. Don’t worry so much about the way you look that you can’t concentrate on the interview. You want to be self-aware without being self-absorbed!

Visit The Job interview section for more articles related to your job preparation.
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