No matter how much you've practiced your answers to common interview questions, it might all be for nothing if you don't pay attention to your body language. Research by UCLA professor of psychology Albert Mehrabian suggests that subtle nonverbal cues are one of the most important decision-making factors when it comes to a person's attitudes and emotions. Learn a few of the most important elements of body language to help you ace your next interview.
Keeping Good Posture
Sitting down for an interview, you want to look relaxed and confident. It's good practice to sit up straight in your chair, but take a few calming breaths when you first sit down to avoid looking rigid. Be careful not to slouch, which can indicate disinterest, and watch out for fidgeting, which tells the interviewer you're nervous. With good posture, you can eliminate distracting body language while communicating your professionalism and overall attitude toward the job opportunity.
Mastering the Handshake
Your first impression when it comes to body language, the handshake is something you may want to practice beforehand with a friend or family member. You should always wait for the interviewer to offer a handshake rather than initiating it yourself. Most handshakes naturally last two or three shakes and don't take more than a few seconds. Offer a firm grip, and remember to make eye contact and say a polite greeting when first shaking hands with your interviewer.
Making Eye Contact
Interviewees often get tripped up on this common element of body language that can make or break an interview. You want to maintain eye contact often to show interest, but simply staring without breaking away can make the interviewer uncomfortable. Try to keep your eye contact natural, looking away before responding or when thinking of an answer to a question. Keep in mind that avoiding eye contact can make you appear sneaky or sly, as many people associate this behavior with someone who's hiding something. Even if your nerves are the true cause of your eye contact foul, the interviewer may perceive things differently.
While practicing interview body language is important, keep in mind that being yourself is one of the best ways to avoid nonverbal slipups such as tapping, fidgeting and poor eye contact. Give honest answers instead of simply trying to guess what the interviewer wishes to hear, and practice positive self-talk to walk into an interview with confidence. If you're nervous about conveying the wrong nonverbal cues, you might also work with an interview coach for some valuable practice.
While body language isn't the only factor at work during an interview, it plays an important role that warrants your full attention and practice. What are a few other body language tips to keep in mind for an upcoming interview? Share your ideas in the comments section.
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