There are many variables at play during an in-person job interview. You can prepare for the interview and control some of the variables that make up your first impression, such as what you choose to wear and how you prepared you are to answer common interview questions. However, many interviewees often overlook their own body language and nonverbal communication during interviews because they are only focused on coherently answering questions.
Not putting additional effort into controlling your body language and making a positive first impression is a common mistake that candidates make at an interview. The first step to improving your body language is to reflect on past interviews you completed and see if you remember yourself fidgeting with your hands, not smiling, or not appropriately matching the mood of the interview. Try to be more self-aware and conscious of your body language during your next interview. To help make your first impression a favorable one, follow the tips below.
What You Do with Your Hands
Your first handshake with your interviewer can really set the tone. Shaking their hand firmly with confidence and looking them in the eye is the best way to pass the first handshake test. If you squeeze their hand too tightly, they might feel like you are too assertive or eager while shaking their hand too loosely could make you appear careless or withdrawn. Keep the handshake quick and be sure to smile to appear open and friendly!
Being aware of what you are doing with your hands during your interview is important. Try to avoid fidgeting with your hands, hair, or anything in front of you on the desk or table between you and the interviewer. Fiddling with your hands or objects makes you appear nervous and not confident in yourself during the interview. Using an open palm gesture every now and then shows them you are open and engaging with the interviewer. Using hand gestures occasionally to emphasize your words or overall points in your answers can be powerful and memorable. Don’t talk with your hands during the entire interview to avoid being distracting.
Facial Expressions and Eye Contact
Since you obviously can’t see your own face during an interview, you will have to use accurate self-awareness to make the right judgement calls on what facial expressions to make. It’s important to have your expressions match the words you’re saying and the tone of the topic. Smile occasionally to appear friendly but don’t try to force a smile the entire interview.
Eye contact should happen throughout the bulk of the interview but should not be a staring competition. Look away every now and then at appropriate times and maintain eye contact when speaking about topics you are truly passionate about. Using too little eye contact is another nervous mannerism to avoid! If you are nervous, sometimes making eye contact can be reassuring that your interviewer is just another person who is trying to get to know you and your professional background.
Follow the Interviewer’s Lead
Mimicking your interviewer’s tone, facial expressions, and attitude is surprisingly a very good way to make a good first impression if you feel lost or nervous during your interview. Usually the person interviewing you has interviewed many people in the past and will be very calm and collected. Be like the interview, be calm and collected! Obviously don’t overdo it and make the exact same gestures or facial expressions as the interviewer the entire time – this isn’t a game of Simon Says. However, if the interviewer laughs, consider laughing with them. If the interviewer smiles, smile back to show that you are paying attention and acknowledging them.
A final and important tip for your interview is to match the mood of the interview. The interviewer might be high energy and seem to move quickly through the conversation while others may be quieter and talk slowly. Use good judgement and consider talking slower or faster and at a different energy level to match and connect with your interviewer.
At the end of the day, using appropriate body language comes down to being self-aware and using good judgement throughout the entire interview. Be confident in yourself and don’t let your nerves hinder you from keeping your composure and portraying confidence! We hope this helpful interview advice benefits you and that you have an excellent interview!
About the Author:
This article is written by Katie McClain, former Digital Marketing Specialist at Automationtechies.
Catch her on LinkedIn or by email.