Being interviewed can make you feel like you are under interrogation and, for most, is a stressful experience no matter how well prepared you are. But it is not only the way you speak or answer questions that determine how interviewers assess you. They will also look at the way you move or sit and if you are fidgety – they will study your body language.
So what should you do with your body to convince the interviewers that you are the right person for the job?
Here are body language mistakes to avoid if you want to ace that job interview.
1. First Appearances
When you enter the interview room, glance around and study the layout. You will probably be shown to a specific seat, but if not, wait a moment to see where the interviewers sit down. In any event, it will probably be quite clear where you should be seated. If your seat is isolated, sit straight and keep your knees together or cross your legs comfortably, whichever is most comfortable, and clasp your hands together in front of you.
If you are seated at a table, then you should sit close enough to be able to rest your forearms on the table. Rest your forearms on the table with your hands together; do not lean on the table and do not keep your hands under the table, because that looks as if you may have something to hide.
Try to avoid fidgeting in your seat. It is distracting for the interviewers and is a telltale sign that you are nervous. Similarly, do not fiddle with your hair or jewelry. It is fine to accept a drink of water but only do so if you have a steady hand; any shaking will betray your nervousness and you certainly do not want to risk spilling the water!
Gesturing with your hands can help you get a point across. It is a natural part of human communication. During an interview, however, you should avoid becoming too animated. You do not want to come across as being over-emotional or aggressive, so be careful to keep your hand gestures under control.
Watch your interviewers’ actions. By mirroring what they do slightly, you can create a rapport. But do not copy everything they do, as this can look unnatural or like you are mocking them. Also, remember to respect their space. They may lean forward, for example. It is fine for you to do the same, but do not get too close.
3. Facial Expression & Eyes
During the interview, try to smile a little. It does help you relax and will help the interviewers warm up to you. Laughter is fine too, when appropriate, provided it is not too dramatic. Your facial expressions can also show worry, confusion, and doubt, so be careful to control them as much as possible. Your eyes can also tell a lot about you. Do not avoid eye contact or keep looking down, as these are sure signs of nerves and lack of confidence.
If you are being asked a question, look at the interviewer doing the asking. Address your reply to the questioner, but try to involve the other interviewers by looking at them at reasonable intervals. Avoid staring at any interviewer, however, as this can be unsettling. Equally, do not allow your eyes to drift off around the room or outside the window, as this will suggest a lack of interest or focus.
Above all else, do your best to relax. You have prepared well for your interview, so there is nothing to worry about. Interviewers know that you are nervous and will usually try to put you at ease. It will not be as difficult to settle as you imagine and that dream job will be yours before you know it!
What other body language mistakes have you seen candidates make in interviews?
Author Bio: Penelope Smith is a retirement recruitment executive with more than 20 years experience in the field. She now focuses on how body language and presentation can affect your employment success when looking for everything from receptionist vacancies to careers in marketing, media, and personal relations.