During an interview you are communicating through two channels – verbal and nonverbal – resulting in two distinct conversations occurring simultaneously.
Carol Kinsey Goman, the author of “The Nonverbal Advantage: Body Language at Work”, says that the non-verbal aspect of communication won’t deliver 93 percent of your entire message (this myth was debunked a long time ago), but it will reveal underlying emotions, motives and feelings.
People will judge most of the emotional content of your message based on your nonverbal signals. It is therefore equally important to give some thought to the subtext, not just text.
First and foremost, balance is crucial and, as a rule of thumb, you should avoid doing extremes of any sort, you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons.
Maintain a neutral posture
According to helpful experts from Forbes, you should find the middle ground in how you hold yourself.
Leaning back can be perceived as lazy or arrogant, leaning forward as aggressive and slouching is just plain lazy. Neutral position would be your best bet – sitting tall as if a string were connecting your head to the ceiling.
Deliver a firm handshake
An ideal handshake is not too tight, not too loose. Possibly the worst thing one can do at an interview is to offer up a limp “dead fish” handshake, which denotes a weak character. On the other hand, you also don’t want to come off as too aggressive by crushing your interviewer’s hand in an effort to show your wholeheartedness.
The duration of a handshake is equally important – shake your interviewer’s hand three times before letting go.
To sum up, the perfect handshake should be done:
- With dry, soft palms
- With a firm, but not too crushing, grip
- With your hand approaching from the side
- For three shakes
- With eye contact and a smile
Hold eye contact one extra eyelash
And do this especially when shaking hands, says charisma coach Cynthia Burnham. Here again, the balance is key, so no staring! You don’t want to creep the interviewer out or give them the impression that you’re hitting on them.
Also, it’s recommended to be mindful of the “timing of your eye movement”. Two-thirds of the time you should be looking anywhere in the eye-nose triangle, the rest of the time you can look away.
Keep your fidgeting to a bare minimum
It’s okay to be nervous on the inside, but try not to make it too apparent. Don’t camouflage your nervousness by putting your hands in your pockets or behind your back though, as it can make you appear stiff.
Playing with hair or picking at your hangnails are all no-go zones.
Bobble-head doll, aka excessive nodding habit isn’t a desirable mannerism at job interviews either. Nod once or twice with a smile of agreement instead.
Avoid crossing your arms or legs
Leave arms open at your sides to appear more approachable and open. Crossing them across the chest can signal defensiveness and resistance, says Karen Freidman, a communications expert.
To add more shades of grey to the issue, Carol Kinsey Goman has a slightly different opinion. According to her, there may be other intentions behind crossing one’s arms: A candidate who suddenly made themselves at home, someone’s common mannerism when trying to think deeply, etc.…
Still, we believe you’d be better off keeping them at your sides. Just in case.
Keep palms up and open when gesticulating
The palm-up gesture is a universal symbol of seeking cooperation, common in both humans and chimpanzees. It suggests truth, honesty, allegiance and submission.
It goes without saying that pointing or banging fists on the table to emphasize your point are to be avoided.
Try using the mirroring trick
Are you any good at subliminal influencing? It’s known that echoing the interviewer’s movements can signify empathy and can help build rapport.
Don’t overdo this though, leaning in or leaning back when they do will be just enough and they won’t notice your “hidden agenda”.
And finally, stay positively tuned
Even the best rehearsed and controlled body language won’t cover up low energy or feelings of despair and insecurity.
On the flip side, positive energy, good intentions, honesty and integrity can often excuse a small body language faux pas.
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