Whether you’re going to your first job interview, you’re out of practice, or you’re generally nervous about interviews, make sure your body language doesn’t give away your fear and apprehension. Stay aware of these general body language tips that can help you through your interview process.
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1. Take control of your posture: As you enter the venue for your interview, make a conscious effort to have good posture. Stretch your back, talk long strides, don’t droop your shoulders, and keep your head high. When you enter with confidence, chances are you’ll deliver and exit with confidence, too.
2. Smile, and make eye contact: Hold the person’s attention and present a pleasant personality. Practice your smile beforehand. You don’t want to force a smile. Your smile and non-creepy eye-contact is what will make your audience engaged in the discussion and comfortable in the interaction.
3. Practice Power Pose: In her TED talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy says, “Power posing — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.” She suggests taking this pose two minutes before the interview.
4. Be alert: Don’t slouch or tuck your limbs close to your body. Sit in an erect posture, with your chest open and your spine aligned to the back of the chair. “But don’t take this to the extreme,” cautions Mark Bowden, author of Winning Body Language, over at Monster.“Elongating your legs or throwing your arm across the back of the chair can make you appear too comfortable, even arrogant.”
5. Have a grip: Have a solid grip when you are shaking hands, and don’t let the fingers slide away; at the same time it’s not an arm wrestling match — you don’t need to have a ferocious grip. Practice your shake in advance with a friend or relative to know what feels right.
6. Observe your surroundings: Don’t blindly follow the recruiter or your interviewer into the interview room. Look around. If you see people looking at you, make eye contact, nod slightly and acknowledge their presence, break into a small smile or say hello. You never know who that person is — they could be your future colleague, manager, or the next interviewer! Even while waiting at reception, you don’t want to appear too self-engrossed and disinterested in the people around you. Many managers check with the reception staff about your behavior and interaction with them.
7. Make yourself comfortable: If you need some water, get it yourself or ask the interviewer to help you. You can’t continue an interview with a parched throat or a breaking voice. If you need something in your hands to keep you focused, consider holding a pen. You could also use the pen to take notes during the discussion if required — so keep a pad handy, too. If you are too fidgety, you will distract your interviewer, taking her focus off your reply.
8. Leave your mark: Don’t be in a hurry to leave, but at the same time don’t continue to keep sitting in your chair even after the interviewer has communicated the completion of the interview. Time yourself to get up with your interviewer and gather your belongings carefully, without any rush. Even if you drop a few things, stay composed. If you’re comfortable — but only if you’re comfortable — make a joke to ease the situation. If the interviewer is holding the door for you, thank them. If you’re exiting first, hold the door open for the interviewer (if they’re leaving, too). You don’t want the door banging on their noses as you leave!
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