So you put together an awesome application and got yourself a job interview. You’ve prepared for any possible questions. You’re ready. But have you considered your body language? Or, more specifically, the job interview body language mistakes you might be making without realising.
If you haven’t, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. A recent survey of hiring managers and employers revealed that these are the 10 biggest body language mistakes that people commonly make in job interviews:
1. Failing to make eye contact (67%)
If you’re not making eye contact, you can come across as untrustworthy – definitely not a good thing in a job interview. A simple way to make sure you make eye contact without falling into that trap of creepy staring is to imagine a triangle made up of the person’s eyes and nose. If you let your eyes cycle through those three points, you’ll maintain the eye contact you need in order to appear engaged without getting into an uncomfortable staring contest.
2. Failing to smile (39%)
In a job interview, it’s absolutely key to build a rapport, and smiling is one of the best ways to do this. Be careful of forcing it, though. An obviously fake smile won’t give a good impression either. Practice in front of the mirror when you get up in the morning. It will feel a little strange at first but you’ll soon be smiling for real. In the interview itself, think of something that makes you happy in order to stimulate a smile.
As a bonus, smiling can actually have the effect of making you happier.
3. Playing with something on the table (33%)
Fiddling with objects is a nervous habit for many people but it’s also easy to circumvent. Discreetly put your hand under the table and tap your leg instead. This will give you an outlet but without displaying your nervousness for everyone to see.
4. Having bad posture (30%)
The way you sit in your chair gives off a lot of signals for the interviewer. If you slouch and lean back in your chair it can suggest that you are bored or uninterested – hardly qualities that are likely to get you hired. Surprisingly, leaning forward can give an equally negative impression. Not only might you seem a little too eager, it can also end up with you being slightly too close to the interview, making them uncomfortable. Instead, steer the middle course. Sit up straight. Imagine a string is tied from the top of your head to the ceiling.
5. Fidgeting too much in their seats (30%)
Of course you are nervous, but try to sit still. If this is a common problem for you, skip the coffee on the morning of the interview. It will only make you more amped up and exacerbate the problem. To help you avoid fidgeting, plant your feet firmly on the ground and keep them there.
6. Crossing their arms over their chests (29%)
Crossing your arms makes you seem closed off and defensive, whereas in a job interview you want to seem open and receptive. Rather than crossing your arms, let them hang loosely by your side when standing, and, when sitting, rest your hands on the table or on your legs.
7. Playing with their hair or touching their faces (27%)
Habits like these are often unconscious. So, the first thing is to be aware that you do it. Try to find something else to do with your hands (without fiddling, as in number 3). In an interview situation, holding a pen is ideal – it’s also handy for taking notes.
8. Having a weak handshake (21%)
If you think you might have a weak handshake, ask some friends to shake hands with you and see what they think. Practice your handshake with the same friends to get your grip right. When you shake hands with someone new, it’s a good idea to take their lead on how firm to be.
Here’s the good news if you do have a weak handshake, University of Chicago and Harvard researchers found that any kind of handshake is better than none at all. Their studies showed that a handshake (even a weak one) creates a better impression and makes people feel more open to cooperation.
9. Using too many hand gestures (11%)
The area between your chest and your waist is generally considered a good boundary for acceptable hand gestures. If you find your hands wandering outside that area, it might be a bit too much.
You should also avoid chopping gestures and pointing, as these can be perceived as being somewhat aggressive.
10. Having a handshake that was too strong (7%)
Looking on the bright side, you definitely won’t make all of the mistakes on this list, as 8 and 10 are mutually exclusive.
If you squeeze the interviewer’s hand in some kind of death grip, it’s not going to make them like you. Excessively strong handshakes are often seen as an attempt to dominate, rather than the friendly gesture a handshake is supposed to be.
If the skin of the other person’s hand starts to wrinkle, your grip is too tight. To avoid this, stiffen your hand in the handshake position rather than actively squeezing. Imagine you are opening a door handle and use about the same level of grip in your handshake.
Take these body language tips on board and you can stop worrying about these common mistakes and start focusing on what’s important, showing how great you would be at the job.
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