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Getting ready for a job interview? Landing your next role isn’t just about nailing the right verbal responses. You may also be sending some nonverbal cues that you’re unaware of through your body language. And it’s scientifically proven that the right gestures, posture, and level of eye contact can immediately make job candidates come across as more competent, confident and trustworthy.
Here are five tips to keep in mind before walking into your next job interview:
1. Don’t underestimate the importance of eye contact.
A joint study between the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Stirling showed that eye contact can make your statements more memorable. That can go a long way when you’re looking to make a positive, lasting impression on a potential employer.
That being said, be careful not to go overboard. Making too direct eye contact can overwhelm your interviewer. The key is to strike the right balance, presenting as both attentive and at ease.
So, getting in the right kind of eye contact can make a strong positive impression on hiring managers and help them remember your confident and robust responses, all while helping you hold on to key takeaways to cover in your follow up.
2. Talk with your hands.
Not positive about what to do with your hands during your interview? When we’re nervous, it’s natural to hide our hands because they can make our anxiety apparent. But it turns out that communicating with your hands can actually help.
Keeping your hands hidden can come across as distrustful—the last impression you want to make as a job candidate. So go ahead and gesture while you’re speaking. Make sure you aren’t making your gestures too large or exaggerated. Instead imagine keeping them contained in a box under your chin.
Making subtle gestures can make you more memorable and approachable, making it easier for your interviewer to relate and connect with you. It also keeps you from playing with your hair, touching your face, or falling prey to other nervous ticks that can make you look less professional and less confident in your job skills.
3. Keep your palms open.
Keeping your palms up and open instantly signals honesty and shows that you’re engaged. This isn’t just speculation – it’s science. The open-palm approach triggers a response in the limbic brain—putting your interviewers at ease by showing your positive response to them. And as added bonus, open and upward facing palms when combined with a relaxed smile and good posture make you come across more energetic. You’ll effortlessly radiate nothing but enthusiasm for your potential employer and position—positive vibes abound!
4. Sit up, back, and straight.
Ready to come across as both attentive and confident? It may sound cliché, but posture really can go a long way.
Make sure your back is straight against the chair. Sit firmly to instantly signal confidence to your interviewer. If you’re prone to slouching, try to sit up straight while keeping your posture natural without looking forced or rigid, which can inadvertently make you appear more anxious about the interview than you actually are.
5. Let your interviewer know you’re listening.
“Smile and nod” gets a bad rap. It really can help! In addition to eye contact, nodding your head while listening to your interviewer quickly shows your attentiveness. Throughout the interview, as they’re describing their goals for the position and their department, nodding your head shows you appreciate and understand what’s being said—a simple way to score some serious subconscious points.
Make sure you’re also taking opportunities to lean in when others in the interview are sharing. Leaning shows that you’re interested. Leaning forward slightly and keeping your shoulders back and down immediately lets your interviewers know that you’re fully engaged and care about what they have to say—both qualities they’re looking for in the future hire. Your posture plays a huge role in nonverbal communication.
If leaning in signals that you’re liking what the other person is saying, it’s easy to understand why leaning back is a big faux pas. Leaning back can be easily misinterpreted as your having an unfavorable opinion of what someone in your job interview is saying. This can also come across as boredom, indifference, or a general lack of interest that could make you seem less serious or passionate about the position. Leaning in shows that special spark hiring managers want to see from candidates they’re interviewing.
6. What if your interview is over the phone?
Your body language may not make an impression, but make sure you’re still smiling. Smiling while talking in a phone interview can change the tone of your voice just slightly, making you sound more pleasant and conveying your interest in the position.
A job interview is, above all, about showcasing yourself – and your choice of words is just a small part of that. Why even have an onsite interview if all that matters is what you say? Supplement your smart answers with the right body language, and you just might end up in that dream role.