Seasoned interviewers know the importance of carefully selecting word choice when both responding to and asking questions during an interview. But what about the importance of what you are not saying?
Mark Bowden, author of Winning Body Language, stresses the importance of body language when communicating with an audience: “If what’s coming out of your mouth doesn’t match what your body is saying, your audience is more likely to believe your body.” This is especially true during a job interview because, more often than not, the interviewer is meeting you for the first time. He/she is gauging his/her perception of you based largely upon how you act. Owner and co-founder of The Savvy Actor, Jodie Bentley, claims acting and interviewing for a job are no different. In both situations “poses, positions and postures tell the audience what to think about the character.”
Unfortunately, managing your body language can be especially difficult. Oftentimes, we are unaware of our movements but body awareness is crucial during an interview. According to Bentley, “there are many actions we should consider doing or avoid doing to tell the right story during the interviewing setting.”
Listed below are several common body language mistakes job seekers should avoid during your next interview and how you can combat these mistakes by being aware of your movements:
- Bad posture—Leaning back suggests laziness while leaning forward suggests aggressiveness. Experts suggest aiming for a “neutral position” as if a “string were connecting your head to the ceiling.”
- Breaking eye contact—People tend to feel uncomfortable maintaining eye contact until a personal connection has been formed. However, experts say maintain strong eye contact is critical during the interview process, especially during a handshake. Eye contact suggests confidence. On the opposite end, prolonged staring is also unnerving to the interviewer.
- Crossed arms—Communications experts claim “arms crossed over your chest signal defensiveness and resistance” while open arms at your side make you appear more approachable.
- Fidgeting/Shaking—Another common response to nervousness or anxiousness is fidgeting. However, nervous energy will distract your interviewer from what you are saying and ultimately detract from the interview. Instead, plant your feet firmly on the ground and keep your arms still, hands away from your face.
- Mismatched expression—If your tone does not match your facial expression, it demonstrates a lack of sincerity and the interviewer is unsure of how to translate your intentions.
- Excessive nodding—Oftentimes, interviewees want to seem focused by excessively nodding in agreement to everything the interviewer is saying. Instead, keep your head center and nod once or twice with a smile of agreement.
Before your next interview, try making yourself aware of these common body language mistakes. Practice more professional, approachable poses and postures as they can have a positive impact on how the interviewer perceives you. In a job interview, it is important to remember that what you don’t say could tell the interviewer more than what you do say. With this advice in mind, you should land that job!