The human brain is wired to pick up on body language cues. Even if you’re saying all the right things, you might make a poor impression if your posture is communicating something different. Check out our latest infographic to learn more about what you should and should NOT do during an interview.
It not just about WHAT you say during an interview, but HOW you say it.
Hiring managers and interviewers have already screened your resume for hard skills and work experience. Instead of focusing on these, you should spend your interview showing that you have the confidence, intelligence, and character to take on any challenge and grow within your role—and body language is an essential way of communicating this.
Body language conveys confidence, which is linked to competence and leadership skills; it conveys openness, which is associated with honesty and integrity; and it conveys friendliness, which is directly related to your ability to work well in a team.
The very first step when you meet your interviewer is to shake their hand. Handshakes are an intrinsic part of a first impression. In one study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology researchers showed that people with firm handshakes were described as more positive, outgoing, and less socially anxious. Another study from the University of Iowa found that HR professionals gave stronger hire recommendations for interviewees with firmer handshakes.
Three Rules for a Better Handshake
- Stand up. If you are sitting when your interviewer enters the room, stand up before extending your hand.
- Aim for a firm grip. If you loosely place your hand in theirs, it communicates fragility and dependence—NOT traits employers look for in their workforce. Conversely, don’t crush their hand by squeezing it with all your strength.
- Maintain eye contact. Maintain eye contact and smile for the duration of the handshake. This shows you are open and honest.
The fastest way to fail your interview is to slouch in your seat, avoid eye contact, and fidget with every object you touch.
Remember that the human brain is wired to pick up on body language cues. Even if you’re saying all the right things, you might make a poor impression if your posture is communicating something different.
What NOT to Do
What it means
Avoid eye contact
Disinterest or discomfort
Maintain CONSTANT eye contact
Cross your arms over your chest
Disapproval or dishonesty
Fidget with objects
Boredom or anxiousness
Lean back in your chair
What to Do
What it means
Maintain NATURAL eye contact
Uncrossed arms and legs
Open to new ideas
Keep hands on the table
Honesty and openness
Sit and stand straight
Power and confidence
Mirroring body language
Bonding and receptivity
The most important thing you can do, however, is to take a deep breath before your interview and relax. Just being aware of your body language goes a long way in ensuring you have good posture and appropriate gestures, so you’re already ahead of the game. Above all, focus on striking the right balance between friendly and professional.
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With the holiday season in full swing, there has never been a better time to network your way to new career opportunities! Social events, seasonal mixers, holiday parties, and even family dinners can be a great time to grow your professional network.
We checked in with Sara McCord at career tip blog, TheDailyMuse.com for these four tips that you can employ at your next holiday event!
The Event: The Staff Holiday Lunch
Your Networking Game Plan: Sit Next to Someone You’d Like to Work With More Closely
At the company’s daytime holiday party, your first instinct may be to sit next to the colleagues you click with naturally. But here’s the deal: If you can grab happy hour with them anytime, save your bonding for then. Take this opportunity to sit next to someone you’d like to work more closely with—maybe someone you’re hoping to collaborate with on an upcoming project or that colleague who always seems just a bit too busy to brainstorm.
And—while it may sound counterintuitive—skip the work chat and use this time to ask them where they’re spending the holidays or what their favorite dish is this time of year. Your goal is to build a connection with someone on a personal level that will motivate him or her to make more time to hear your work ideas later. Once you’ve chatted for a while, you can mention you’d love to get a meeting on the calendar.
The Event: The Multi-Stakeholder Office Party
Your Networking Game Plan: Know Key Stats
Whether your co-attendees are clients, donors, or staff from other organizations, your goal at these large events is to be a shining ambassador for your company. Likely to bump into a board member who always asks how things are on the other coast? Imagine how competent you’ll look (and how confident you’ll feel) beginning with a story about a recent event out there. Eye a client you’ve been dying to connect with? Feel free to begin with holiday topics, but be armed with some numbers on your latest projects. Remember, the large office party is an opportunity for you to put a face to your email signature, and knowing your stuff will make you memorable (in the best way).
The Event: The Family Holiday Dinner
Your Networking Game Plan: Explain What You Do (And What You’d Like To Do)
Why should you talk to your aunt (a first-grade teacher) or your cousin’s new boyfriend (who’s in finance) about your work optimizing websites? Because family counts as a part of your network. Your aunt’s dear friend or your cousin’s former colleague might be a great contact for you to have—but you’ll never know if you shy away from talking about your work. And if you’re on the job hunt and just hoping to dodge questions about your employment status, think again. Instead, choose to talk about your skills, and what you hope to be doing. Then follow up with a simple, “know anyone?” At the very least, you’ll be connecting with your family (on a subject other than your love life), and at best, you may get some new leads and emails.
The Event: The Friend’s Cocktail Party
Your Networking Game Plan: Introduce Yourself to the New Faces
You’re always at work, and finally, it’s time to let your hair down after hours. Sure, you can spend your friend’s infamous party dancing away with your besties, but you can also use it to make new, local contacts. It’s easier than you think. Just make yourself say hello to at least one person you’ve never seen before, ask her how she knows the host, and then ask her what she does for a living. She’ll respect that you’re going out of your way to say hello to the new girl, and in such a non-office environment, will likely feel more comfortable answering questions like what the hours are really like in her field.
(Source: Sara McCord for TheDailyMuse.com)