The Importance of Body Language in Interviews

Body Language in Job Interviews:
What You Need to Know

Body language plays a crucial role in job interviews and can make all the difference in securing your dream job. It's not just what you say, but how you say it that can impact the outcome of an interview.

Interviewers pay close attention to both verbal and nonverbal cues, so it's essential to be mindful of your body language during the interview. In this article, we'll delve into the key aspects of body language that you need to pay attention to in order to make a great first impression.

The Perfect Handshake

Starting off on the right foot is essential, and a handshake can set the tone for the rest of the interview. A handshake is a symbol of introduction and a polite way to acknowledge the other person. Hiring managers have noted that while a limp or unenthusiastic handshake won't necessarily ruin an interview, it can start things off on a negative note. To avoid this, make sure to clasp the interviewer's hand firmly and confidently, but without overdoing it. If you're worried about sweaty palms, keep your hands open and carry a few tissues just in case.

Maintain Eye Contact

Eye contact is crucial in any interaction, but especially during a job interview. A lack of eye contact can lead the interviewer to believe that you're shy, disinterested, or even dishonest. Maintaining eye contact is essential, but it's important to avoid staring at the interviewer to the point of making them uncomfortable. Shift your gaze between interviewers if there are multiple, but make sure to look each one in the eye for a couple of seconds. When answering questions, it's crucial to direct your answers to everyone in the room.

The Power of a Smile

A smile is a great way to show that you're genuinely pleased to be at the interview, but it's important to smile only when you mean it. An oversized or artificial grin, especially when used too often, can lead to the opposite result. It may even lead the interviewer to believe you're forcing yourself to act in a certain way.

Research from Discover Magazine has shown that when a person is genuinely happy, a part of the brain called the basal ganglia is activated, leading to the unconscious contracting of certain facial muscles. A forced smile, however, uses a different group of muscles, which is why it's easy to tell the difference between a real and fake smile.

Personal Space Matters

Personal space is another important aspect of body language to pay attention to during a job interview. Individual cultures and people have different interpretations of what constitutes an appropriate amount of personal space. One person might feel at ease speaking inches from someone's face while another person might feel uncomfortable with that level of closeness. It's important to be aware of the interviewer's body language and adjust your distance accordingly. A good way to gauge personal space is to pay attention to the interviewer's body language and mirror it to a certain extent.

Control Your Gestures

Gestures can be distracting, especially if they're constant or bold. It's important to keep your movements natural and under control. Additionally, avoid gestures that can be misinterpreted, such as crossing and uncrossing your legs or arms repeatedly, fidgeting with your hair, touching your face too much, scratching your head, playing with a button or pen, etc. These mannerisms can make you look anxious, bored, unclean, or even deceitful. It's important to be mindful of your body language, especially your gestures, as they can convey your thoughts and emotions without you even realizing it.

Be Mindful of Personal Space

Personal space is a subjective concept that can vary between individuals and cultures. Be aware of the interviewer's body language and adjust your distance accordingly. A person who is comfortable speaking inches from someone's face might feel uncomfortable with the same level of closeness, so be mindful of the interviewer's comfort level.

The Bottom Line

Body language is a vital aspect of job interviews and can make the difference between landing your dream job or filling out more job applications. By shaking hands properly, maintaining eye contact, smiling genuinely, being mindful of personal space, and keeping your gestures natural and under control, you'll send the right message and put your best foot forward in the interview.

Remember, the interviewer will pay just as much attention to your nonverbal cues as to your verbal answers, so be mindful of your body language and make it work for you.