People often say that we should not judge a book by its cover but unfortunately, that’s what the human mind is designed to do. The human mind tends to make as many decisions as it can based on minimal information. This happens in almost all human interactions including a job interview.
In a job interview, the goal of the interviewer is to not only assess your skills and qualifications but also to decode your personality and attitude. So an interviewer’s mind is scanning you for clues from the very moment you enter the room. Your body language and other non-verbal signals will undoubtedly create an impression in the interviewer’s mind that can influence their decision to hire you or not.
Sitting in the chair
Avoid body language gestures that close you up such as crossing the arms and legs. Avoid erecting a barrier between you and the interviewer by placing a mug, book, laptop, etc. on the table between you and the interviewer.
Scratching your face, neck and head should also be avoided because they usually send negative signals. Do it only if have an itch that you badly want to get rid of. Try using the steeple gesture of the hands when you’re talking to give the impression that you’re confident and know what you’re talking about.
When it comes to eye contact, the more the better. Aim for maintaining eye contact 70% of the time. You don’t want to continuously stare into the eyes of your interviewer as this makes people feel uncomfortable and you don’t want to shift your eyes away as soon as you make eye contact because this makes feel people unimportant. Find that balance by holding eye contact for some time and then shifting your eyes away and then back again. This makes the other person feel that you’re comfortable talking to them and are talking naturally without any pressure to gain their approval or a fear of rejection.
|The seated figure 4 gesture assumed by the man on the left should be avoided in formal situations like interviews.|
For example, if you notice that your interviewer has clasped their hands, you can copy this gesture by first bringing your hands together so that they’re barely touching each other. Then you can start clasping them partially and after some time, fully. You don’t have to copy each and every gesture of your interviewer. Focus on the gesture that they’ve made for a while. When they undo the gesture, you undo it too but again, slowly, so as not to make it apparent.
For example, a customer service job requires the candidate to be a good listener and communicator. If you’re applying for this type of job, you can customize your body language to send signals that convince the interviewer that you have these skills. For instance, nodding more often and rephrasing some of the sentences of your interviewer (along the lines of “So you’re saying…”) will give the impression that you’re a good listener.
Say the interviewer asks you about a hobby and you go on talking about it. If, during this time, you notice any negative body language signal (such as boredom indicated by resting chin on the hand) then you should cut the topic short and move on to another topic. When you’re talking about the things that generate interest (leaning forward) in your interviewer, elaborate on the topic as much as you desire.
New to body language? Learn what the different gestures and expressions mean: Reading body language and facial expressions