Body Language

“Tired” © R.L. Herron

If you’re like a lot of my friends, interviews seem harder to come by since the business downturn. To prepare for the next one that is sure to come, now may be a good time to review things like resumes…and body language.

Body language? Yes, body language.

Body language speaks volumes, all by itself. Actors use it all the time to influence the way an audience thinks about a character. A job interview is no different. There are actions and habits to both consider and avoid to tell the right story.

I’ve boiled them down to the seven that are mentioned most often:

1. Wardrobe
So many articles start with this admonition because you cannot overemphasize the importance of wearing clothes to an interview.

Most articles also suggest wearing something in which you feel comfortable, since it will also make your body language appear more relaxed and confident.

This makes good sense. I usually feel most comfortable in yesterday’s sweatshirt and jeans, but I don’t think that’s exactly what they meant.

2. Hold a Talisman
Focusing on something that has special meaning to you can ground you in the moment. Such grounding is supposed to keep you from getting nervous.

For instance, if you start to feel a little uneasy, look at your wedding ring, think of your spouse and realize how pissed she is going to be if you don’t find meaningful work this time.

3. Feet on the Floor
Most articles recommend keeping both feet on the floor and sitting up straight. Crossing your legs could portray complacency, and it certainly makes it nearly impossible to bolt and run should you need to.

4. Sit Still
Nervous energy apparently isn’t good. Crossing and uncrossing your legs means you missed item three, and tapping your foot over and over again is downright annoying. It’s also bad form to crack your knuckles or fiddle with your hair.

Don’t misunderstand. There’s no need to sit stiffly with your ankles crossed. But excessive twitching may make the interviewer think you need medical attention.

5. Lean Forward
Leaning backwards in your chair may give the impression you are relaxed and confident. But lean too far back and you may imply you are not taking things seriously. Plus, you might become too relaxed and fall over backward.

All things considered, it’s best to sit a bit forward, as if you are paying close attention (hopefully you are). Just don’t sit too far forward. Stretching your body over the interviewer’s desk, or manhandling the pictures of his wife and kids, will certainly leave an impression. Just not the right one.

6. No Hands in Pockets
If you are standing during the interview, having your hands in your pockets is a big no-no. It looks clumsy and messy.

It’s even worse if you’re sitting down, because who knows what you are doing with your hands. Besides, you run the risk of pulling out a lint-covered breath mint when you need to gesture to make a point.

7. Don’t Stare
Never fully lock eyes with people. It’s unnerving. Normally, you look people in the eyes momentarily, have a thought and look away.

However, in an interview setting, you sometimes focus so much on impressing the interviewer you wind up staring at them, unblinking. You can tell you’re overdoing it when they back away and start to act like you might be a little crazy.

Remembering these things may help you with your next interview. Of course, thinking about them too much may make you think twice about going in the first place.

Me? I’m perfectly comfy in that old sweatshirt and jeans. I just hope they don’t make the interviewer too uncomfortable.


One Response to “Body Language”

  1. Arlene Pierce Says:



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