Interviews are a key part in the hiring process. Even opportunities like internships require an interview. So it goes without saying that college students can benefit greatly from learning how to master the art of the interview early on. Much of the skills necessary to perform well include knowing how to answer questions to the best of one’s ability, strength of the resume/experience relevant to the position and knowing how to communicate clearly.
However, one of the most important aspects of interviewing is often unacknowledged: body language. Regardless of what a person is saying, if the body language is off it can negatively affect the interview itself. Interviewees tend to not pay much attention to their body language but the interviewers definitely do. In fact, many of them are trained to observe a person’s body language and understand what it means.
Body Language Tip #1: Good Posture
Taking etiquette classes are no longer the mandatory staple they once were in people’s lives but simple things such as practicing good posture still goes a long way. Almost all interviews take place sitting down and it is important to avoid slouching. Needless to say, this type of bad posture is unattractive and comes across as being lazy or disinterested.
However, you don’t have to sit ramrod straight in the chair, either. It is best to sit near the edge of the chair instead of all the way back, which promotes slouching.
Make sure you straighten your back but not to the point where it is uncomfortable. Good posture translates as appearing alert and makes for better engagement during conversation.
Body Language Tip #2: Good Eye Contact
Being unable to hold eye contact for a period of time can make it appear as if a person is nervous, shy or insecure.
Glancing around too much aka “shifty eyes” is a negative body language sign. It’s hard to talk to someone that can’t look you right in the eye. Learn how to feel comfortable holding an interviewer’s gaze as they are talking to you and vice-versa.
It is okay to look away every so often. Avoid staring directly into the interviewer’s eyes the entire time–it is unnerving.
Body Language Tip #3: Smile!
You should be excited about the interview opportunity so don’t be afraid to smile during the interview. Going in with a stone cold, serious expression is off-putting and could make the interviewer wonder if something is wrong with you. It’s acceptable to be serious sometimes but mix it up. Interviewers want to know you’re human and displaying emotions at appropriate times is a surefire way of getting that message across.
Body Language Tip #4: Firm Handshake
Nothing feels weirder than a weak handshake–it’s like shaking hands with a wet noodle. A firm handshake is an instantly positive body language sign. It conveys confidence, which is what employers want. Pairing that firm handshake with a genuine smile always makes for a winning combination. Make sure you don’t shake their hand for too long. Give it 1-2 good shakes and then let go.