By Gordon Petten
After re-structuring your resume, spending hours on employment search engines, sending out dozens of applications and speaking to several potential employers in a telephone interview – you have finally scored the ultimate – a job interview! All you have to do is to walk in there and wow them with your impressive list of skills and achievements. Right? Not so fast. Did you know that your body can betray you? Body language, all those jitters and gestures, can convey an impression that you may not want to convey. Here are some things you may want to watch for:
o A firm handshake will give a good impression to a potential employer at a job interview – but not too firm which can appear aggressive and arrogant. Shake hands firmly but not too powerfully and look straight at the other person. If you are being introduced to more than one person, it is better to go around the table and shake hands rather than leaning over the table. Look at each person and say your name – don't assume that they will know it.
o During your job interview try to adopt a posture that shows interest but still comes across as being relaxed. You can do this by sitting up straight in your chair at the beginning of the job interview, with your back against the back of the chair. Leaning forward shows that you are interested in what is being said and that the person conducting the interview has captured your attention. However, sitting on the edge of the chair comes across as being tense and may be interpreted as your feeling uncomfortable.
o What to do with your hands during a job interview? In a difficult situation we are often inclined to fold our arms across our body. It is better not to do this as arms crossed comes across as defensive. It is better to let your hands lie easily in your lap or on the armrests. Hand movements can help to liven up the interview. The fact that you dare to make movements with your hands during a job interview might indicate that you feel at ease quickly.
o Head tilted to the side shows interest as does nodding the head. Head straight up signals a neutral attitude to what is being said while the head down reads as negative and judgmental and whether that is what you are trying to convey or not, it is not how you want to be interpreted.
o Bringing a hand to the back of the neck shows that you are trying to pull out of the conversation as if the questions being asked are not ones that you are willing to pursue. It makes you seem as if you have something to hide.
o Legs crossed can make you look lopsided and therefore lacking in confidence or defensive. Sit straight at a job interview, facing the potential employer directly.
o Picking imaginary fluff from clothing signals that you don't agree with what is being said and the person conducting the job interview can take huge umbrage at being more or less 'dismissed'.
o Pay attention to inadvertent movements that you may make sometimes during a job interview due to nervousness. For example, shuffling with your feet or kicking against the leg of a table can be very irritating for other people. Drumming with your fingers or clicking with a pen also won't be a great contribution to the interview. So pay attention!
Body language works both ways and it is important to be aware of how the person conducting the job interview is relating to you. For instance, if he/she shakes their head, sighs or fold their arms you can interpret this as a subconscious sign of displeasure. Take note of what you are saying that might cause them to be annoyed and take immediate steps to turn the job interview around before they even realize that they are irritated. Realise that the job interview is more than just a means for the employer to determine which of the candidates is most suitable for the job. The job interview especially is a moment of mutual acquaintance. It's a first meeting with people that you might soon work together with. Therefore the boss should actually be just as nervous as you!
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