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October 2, 2019

5 Ways Your Body Language Impacts Your Interview

You’ve honed your elevator pitch, you can talk in detail about your resume, and you have an ambitious five-year career plan...but have you given much thought to your body language? If not, you might end up costing yourself a job offer. In a CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,600 hiring managers, 51% said that they know within the first five minutes of an interview if a candidate is a good fit for a position based on their behavior and body language. Body language mistakes are typically caused by interview nervousness, and the best way to minimize anxiety is through solid preparation. Let’s take a look at five body language elements to be mindful of if you want to appear calm, cool, and collected during a job interview.

Handshake

Your opening handshake will set the tone for the rest of the interview, so be sure to look your interviewer in the eye, smile, and give them a 2-5 second handshake that’s firm but not crushing. If your interviewer doesn’t offer a handshake, go ahead and initiate, as that will show your openness and willingness to engage. If you’re sitting down when the interviewer walks into the room, stand up and offer your hand. Keep your opposite hand unclenched and out of your pocket.

Pro Tip: If you suffer from untimely clammy hands, a few dabs of alcohol-based sanitizer will temporarily dry them up.

Posture

The best way to maintain good posture during your interview is to sit up straight with your back against the backrest, as if a string were tied from the top of your head to the ceiling. You want your spine to be neutral and relaxed—if you try too hard to sit straight you may look stiff and tense. Let your arms rest at your sides or in your lap. According to WebMD, crossing your arms can send the message that you’re uncomfortable, closed off or overly guarded. Try mirroring your interviewer’s posture. If he or she is leaning forward, do the same. This suggests that you are earnest and open to partnership. Either way, avoid leaning all the way back in your chair as that can come across as too cavalier.

Pro Tip: If possible, sit at an angle from your interviewer rather than straight across from them, as that will feel friendlier and less confrontational.

Eye Contact

According to the above-mentioned CareerBuilder survey, 67% of hiring managers think that failure to make eye contact is a top job interview faux pas. Shifty eyes, looking at the floor, or staring at other things in the room can make you seem timid or untrustworthy, but too much eye contact can come off as creepy or aggressive. To maintain a natural and amicable level of eye contact, pretend that your interviewer is a dear friend or family member and listen to them like you’re genuinely interested in what they’re saying. It’s also a good idea to ask them questions about the job to show you’ve done your homework and to determine whether the company would be a good fit.

Pro Tip: If you’re uncomfortable with extended periods of eye contact, switch it up by looking at your interviewer’s eyebrows or the bridge of their nose. It’s a subtle difference that will make you more relaxed and the interviewer won’t be able to perceive the difference.

Fidgeting

Jittery behavior can make you appear nervous or on edge, and worse, could distract your interviewer, making it difficult for them to pay attention to what you’re saying. If you have a habit of twirling your hair, fiddling with a pen, or touching your face, practice interviewing in front of a mirror. Occupy your hands by using gestures to support your answers and show expressiveness, but be careful not to overdo it—too many over-the-top hand gestures can make you seem out of control. When you’re not talking with your hands, keep them folded in your lap.

Pro Tip: Just before you walk into an interview, stop and take several, slow, deep breaths. Count to four as you inhale, and again as you exhale. This will help lower your heartrate and quiet any nervous energy you might be feeling.

Attire

A study by a team of psychological scientists revealed that clothes not only shape the way others see us, but influence the way we think. Wearing a suit or dress can automatically improve your posture while shorts and a t-shirt might make you more likely to slouch. That’s because your clothing has an impact on your confidence, and that can affect your body language. The way you dress for an interview can also help you establish yourself to an interviewer. For example, if the position you’re applying for is one that will have direct contact with clients, dress the way you would to meet with a client. Dress so that a potential employer can envision you in the position.

Pro Tip: If you’re not sure about a potential employer’s dress code, err on the side of professional. If you’re interviewing for a company with a relaxed or casual dress code, you can dress to fit in, but don’t go too casual. Regardless of the environment, flip flops and shorts or ripped jeans is never a good idea.

If you’re a legal professional seeking temporary, temp-to-hire, or direct hire employment, JurisTemps can help. We are an industry leader in finding jobs for legal professionals at every stage of their career, and our pre-interview coaching and resume assistance ensure that you’re well prepared when the time comes. Ready to find your next job or have some questions before you get started? View our current job openings or contact us today – we look forward to assisting you!

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