The experts tell us that your visual impression or body language – as well as your attitude – are just as important as what we actually say when it comes to the overall effect we have on others. Generally, it is important to convey the image of a person with whom the interviewer would like to work. Enthusiasm, interest level, sincerity, openness and warmth go into the “chemistry” that often makes or breaks a hiring decision.
We all need to be aware of the little things that others see in our facial expressions, postures, energy levels and gestures. Generally, we should be dynamic and friendly but one notch less than the person interviewing us. It is obvious that interviewers prefer those who smile vs. those who frown, so smile! However, your facial expressions should change to reflect the mood of the conversation. Nodding agreement encourages others to talk as well as to let them know that you understand what is being said. Your head should be held erect (not tilted or stiff) during the interview and you should keep your hands away from the face or neck area while talking. Eye contact is one of the best aspects of body language. Good eye contact with the interviewer sends a message of trustworthiness, confidence and credibility while fostering open discussion.
On the other hand, poor eye contact often reflects a lack of self confidence, a low self image and lack of enthusiasm. It is particularly important to maintain 10-15 seconds of eye contact when first meeting a person before looking away. Do not stare into the other person’s eyes but come back to the eye contact often during your discussion.
Volumes have been written about a firm (but not crushing) handshake. In our society, a handshake is a non-verbal message that we are genuinely happy to meet or see the other person. A limp version of this greeting sends a very weak message to the other person so it is important that our grasp reflect the interest and enthusiasm we want to convey. No more than two shakes are ever required and one is preferred for most business meetings. Again, be sure that your purse or briefcase is in your left hand to accommodate a sudden introduction.
Never sit until asked to do so by an interviewer and when you do, sit erectly with both feet on the floor. Don’t fidget or change positions too often. Tapping your fingers, wringing your hands, looking at your watch or twirling your pen can only distract from the image of a professional communicator concentrating on the very serious task of evaluating career opportunities.