By Teresa Myers
Body language — which consists of posture, gestures, facial expressions and eye movements — can make or break an interview. And while it may seem like a no-brainer, not everyone is aware of its importance.
“I never realized how much your body language, the way you speak and present yourself from the beginning, even simple tips like sit more on the edge of the chair, cross your ankles and not your knees — all of that really makes a difference in an interview.”
For those who are still unaware of the image they’re projecting, here are five interview-tripping tips you should keep in mind:
1. Eye contact
Maintaining eye contact can never be emphasized enough. Looking down on the ground, anywhere but at the viewer or audience will keep you on the unemployment line. On a smaller scale, when you’re in a room across from an interviewer, it’s especially important to let your eyes do the “talking,” so to speak. That will let them know that you are interested and confident.
2. Good posture
This is one of those areas where you need to find your middle ground. Sitting ramrod straight in your chair gives off an “I’m uptight” feeling. Similarly, slouching says, “Hey, I’m too cool for this.” Neither one will get the right message across.
So, try leaning forward a bit when the interviewer is speaking, and sit up taller when it’s your turn.
You don’t need to be a “bobble-head” to let the interviewer know that you’re listening and agreeing with what they’re saying, however, you should nod occasionally where it’s applicable.
Nothing says “I’m an agreeable person to work with,” than a nice, toothy grin. If you’ve ever encountered someone with no expression at all, you know how disconcerting that can be. Imagine an interviewer’s position. They are trying to find the best fit for their job. A warm, engaging personality and an easy smile (don’t force it) will break down their defenses.
This is mostly a cultural habit. Some people are brought up to stand close when speaking to someone. Others will feel claustrophobic when encountering that kind of person. To make sure there is no discomfort, go for the middle ground. Try to maintain a bit of distance when talking to the recruiter — a distance of about two to three feet between you is considered optimal.
Finally, most experts suggest taking your cues from the interviewer, a technique called “mirroring.” Try to adopt their posture; if they are formal, do the same; if relaxed, that’s your cue to smile a lot more.
Above all, like most things in life: Practice, practice, practice before your interview.