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The day of the big interview has finally arrived. You know what you’re going to wear, you’ve done some relevant research and made a list of questions to ask should the answers not come up in open conversation. But, have you thought about the impact your body language might have on the process? You’re being judged from the moment you walk through the door and the non-verbal impressions you make might be key to the final decision.
So, what are the do’s and don’ts?
Engaging with your interviewer is vital and shows that you’re paying attention. If you’re faced with more than one interviewer you should be sure to make contact with all of them, addressing the person who has asked the question but relating to everyone on the panel.
Your posture needs to be good from the moment you arrive in the reception area. You should sit up straight and lean forwards slightly when asked a question, engaging with the interviewer. Lounging and making yourself a little too comfortable may exude an air of over confidence. You don’t want to be tightly clutching your hands appearing too nervous nor angling yourself towards the door, looking like you’re planning a quick escape.
Nonverbal actions represent two-thirds of all communication and the correct use of your hands can help to create the right impression. Keeping your palms facing upwards is a sign of openness and honesty while touching fingertips together suggests authority, although this should be used sparingly. Clenching fists and waving your arms about should be avoided along with biting your nails. Apart from being distracting and unsightly this suggests a high degree of nervousness.
Excessive hair touching or nose rubbing can appear dishonest or untrustworthy whilst rubbing your head or neck gives the impression of being bored or disinterested. You should try to keep your personal gestures open and expressive with shoulders relaxed and facing the questioner. Avoid sitting with arms crossed too, you don’t want to appear to be defensive or unapproachable.
Showing your personality is very important in an interview situation so laughing when the interviewer does and smiling and nodding where appropriate works well. Intonation is also key, too soft and you’ll appear timid, too loud and you’ll seem domineering.
Try to keep both feet firmly on the floor to resist the temptation of jiggling your leg up and down or tapping your fingertips. This will also help to keep your posture intact maintaining your focus. Too much movement may suggest boredom and impatience.
Matching your interviewers’ positive body language can help to get your interview off to a good start. Mirroring a nod or subtle posture change creates common ground without appearing too bold. Always take the middle ground on handshakes, too weak and you’ll appear to be a pushover whilst too firm may suggest a hint of arrogance. Showing a good degree of respect and keeping a professional personal distance will all hold you in good stead, first impressions most definitely count!
Overall, keep your focus on the conversation, maintain a positive posture and hold your head up high from the moment you arrive right up until the moment you leave. Oh, and good luck!
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